Owner-drivers hound A&S Logistics over unpaid invoices

Dangerous goods operator ordered to settle outstanding invoices with five owner-drivers chasing a combined sum of more than $75,000

Owner-drivers hound A&S Logistics over unpaid invoices
Owner-drivers hound A&S Logistics over unpaid invoices
By Brad Gardner | August 9, 2011

A dangerous goods operator’s failure to pay a group of owner-drivers has come back to haunt it after it was ordered to settle payments totalling more than $75,000.

The NSW Industrial Relations Commission has upheld a claim from the Transport Workers Union representing five sub-contractors who began work with A&S Logistics in November last year.

Commissioner Alistair Macdonald stepped in to settle the dispute after A&S Logistics Director Shane Black ignored requests to appear at pre-hearing conferences and the actual hearing on the issue.

The owner-drivers are owed between $11,000 and $24,156 and were waiting for more than a month in some instances to get paid despite their contracts stipulating seven-day terms.

"Having considered all of the evidence, the Commission finds that the company has not paid for invoices presented by the five contract carriers and the company had a legal obligation under the contract between the contract carriers and the company to have paid those invoices," Macdonald says in his written judgement.

The TWU will now need to file a small claim for the underpayments, which Black had initially said during a teleconference earlier this year would be settled by the weekend of April 9.

"When the union so files, then the Commission will issue a further decision setting out the Orders (as set out in the small claim) for payment of monies by the Company to each contract carrier," Macdonald says.

The TWU accused Black of trying to dodge the matter after he failed to show up at the hearing. Owner-driver Luke Bickhoff, who is owed $14,520, says A&S Logistics would pay invoices 33 days overdue.

"Shane (Mr Black) would promise me that he would bring all outstanding invoices up to date but he never did," Bickhoff told the commission.

Tufiq Nabaki says he had to wait three to four weeks to be paid, while Trevor Ramsey waited up to five weeks.

"When I would approach Shane he would promise to deposit the monies into my account within days of speaking to him but this would never happen," Nabaki, who is chasing $11,000, says.

Black claimed he could not attend the proceedings because he had to cover for a manager, Darren Warton, who injured his back. However, the commission found that Warton hurt himself more than a month before the hearing date.

Macdonald says Black had ample time to contact the commission well in advance of the hearing and to organise a representative to act on his behalf.

He says the owner-drivers had worked for Black on the basis they would be paid within seven days.

"This has not happened and they were out of pocket each by large sums of monies," Macdonald says.

He says the $24,156 claim from sub-contractor Tony Stepanovski will be limited to $20,000, which is the small claim cap that can be issued by the commission.

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