Extra work prompted reinstatements: Toll

Toll says extra work from a new customer prompted its decision to give sacked US drivers their jobs back

By Brad Gardner | December 2, 2011

The jobs handed back to truck drivers at Toll's US operation may be short-lived, with the company hinting the positions will not be there in the long-term.

Toll’s General Manager of Corporate Affairs, Andrew Ethell, says the company’s decision to reinstate some of the 26 employees it sacked in late October stemmed purely from an increase in work.

He says the workers, who had joined with the Teamsters union to push for improvements to workplace practices prior to being fired, are seasonal and their positions will be determined by the amount of work available.

"This is off the back of a single customer and some extra work. If and when that work isn’t around anymore, we have to do the same thing we did last time," Ethell says.

He says it is normal practice to call back the most senior of the company’s casual drivers when there is a boost in the workload.

"That’s exactly what we did."

"This is very normal and any claims it’s to do with anything else are just wrong."

The Teamsters, which is trying to bargain on behalf of Toll’s truck drivers, issued a statement yesterday citing the reinstatements as a victory over management.

Along with the union, the drivers have staged protests and signed petitions to pressure Toll into improving conditions at its Los Angeles-based work sites.

They claim they are denied the use of clean indoor bathroom, kitchen and rest facilities and must make do with unsanitary port-a-loos.

Teamsters official Nick Weiner claims Toll fired its drivers in retaliation for union activity and objecting to poor working conditions.

Outgoing Toll Managing Director Paul Little says all drivers are permitted to use an indoor lounge, shower facilities, lunchroom and bathrooms at its main San Pedro base near the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

He says port-a-loos are used at a smaller container yard because there are no sewer systems and that the facilities are cleaned daily.

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