TWU pursuit of Post Logistics "without merit", commission rules

Union attempt to squeeze $228k in redundancy payments from Post Logistics fails

TWU pursuit of Post Logistics "without merit", commission rules
TWU pursuit of Post Logistics "without merit"
By Brad Gardner | July 15, 2011

A union attempt to squeeze more than $228,000 out of Post Logistics in redundancy payments has fallen over, with the NSW Industrial Relations Commission accusing it of acting "without merit".

Commissioner Inaam Tabbaa threw out the Transport Workers Union’s bid for hefty payments to nine contract carriers affected by the NSW-based company’s decision to outsource its local work to Messenger Post.

The contractors were all offered work with Messenger Post on the same rates of pay when delivery duties were transferred to it last year.

Representatives for Post Logistics argued this exempted the company from severance payments because it had found acceptable alternative work for the contractors in line with the Transport Industry (State) Redundancy Contract Determination.

But in what has been a long-running dispute that has wound its way through the Commission, the TWU claimed the rates were inferior and there was no guarantee of work.

It sought a combined $228,256.97 for the nine contractors, but Tabbaa rejected claims for three individuals and limited payments to the remaining six to a combined $54,670.

"Messenger Post guaranteed all nine carriers the same rates of pay that each was receiving for the work done for Post Logistics," she says.

Tabbaa found that the contractors experienced no hardship or inconvenience in finding work.

In dismissing claims for the three individuals that totalled $55,613.67, she ruled: "There has not been any evidence from the TWU or the PLA carriers…that would warrant a finding justifying any severance payment and therefore the claim for a redundancy payment for the PLA carriers is without merit."

The six of the carriers that received compensation were all operating under a contract from their time at State Warehousing and Distribution Services, which Post Logistics bought in 2007.

The contract recognised goodwill if the contractor sold their vehicle and also guaranteed a minimum of four hours of pay per day with Post Logistics.

Messenger Post did not accept goodwill and required the contractors to trade as corporations, which one driver refused to do. The TWU also argued there was no guarantee of work either.

"I consider that matters such as goodwill, requirement to incorporate, a determined contract duration by Messenger Post when they enjoyed on-going work with Post Logistics (absent with Messenger Post contracts) are matters that need to be taken into account in determining this subjective matter and ought to be included in the package," Tabbaa says.

She awarded $21,250 to the carrier that refused to incorporate, with the remainder of the compensation varying between $5,170 and $7,750.

Post Logistics decided to outsource its local delivery work in 2010 after completing a review into its operations. The Commission says the company was suffering from financial hardship.

The dispute between the TWU and Post Logistics was first heard back in June last year before going to the full bench five months later.

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