Ombudsman gets the message out on trucking Awards

Around 10,000 handbooks were handed out to trucking operators last financial year to educate them on industrial relations changes

By Brad Gardner | October 21, 2011

Around 10,000 trucking-specific handbooks were handed out to employers and prime contractors last financial year to educate them on industrial relations changes.

In its annual report released today, the Fair Work Ombudsman says its partnership with the Australian Road Transport Industrial Organisation (ARTIO) helped get the message out on the new modern Award system.

The changes significantly reduced the number of employment Awards and introduced the Road Transport and Distribution Award and the Road Transport (Long Distance Operations) Award.

The Ombudsman supplied a grant to the ARTIO to develop and distribute the handbooks specifically covering the employment conditions of each Award, such as wages, allowances, work hours and annual leave.

The grant was drawn from the Shared Industry Assistance Projects, which was a scheme set up to help small businesses understand their obligations.

"The handbooks were designed to fit in the glove box of a vehicle, recognising that for many of these small businesses, their vehicle is their office," the annual report says.

The Ombudsman says working with industry groups such as the ARTIO helped it reach a large number of employers.

"These partnerships also established relationships that continue to assist the Fair Work Ombudsman in its mission to educate employers on their rights and obligations under the Fair Work Act," the annual report says.

The report also details the Ombudsman’s actions against trucking companies it investigated for underpaying staff.

South Australian-based Irvine’s Transport underpaid its staff $144,465. The underpayments were previously listed as $142,609.96.

As well as rectifying the underpayments, which the Ombudsman says were due to ignorance, Irvine’s was ordered to apologise to affected staff, issue a public notice and report to the Ombudsman in future.

Similar conditions were also imposed on Ascot Haulage in the Northern Territory for underpaying staff $19,228. It breached conditions relating to wages and conditions and time and wage records.

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