Linfox wants tougher conditions on use of subbies

Linfox backs expansion of union-negotiated deal that imposes strict measures on major trucking companies using subbies

Linfox wants tougher conditions on use of subbies
Linfox wants tougher conditions for companies using subbies

By Brad Gardner | December 1, 2011

Linfox has backed the expansion of a union-negotiated clause that slaps strict conditions on the country’s major trucking operators when using sub-contractors and owner-drivers.

The company’s President of Human Resources, Laurie D’Apice, wants auditing and compliance measures contained in Linfox’s enterprise agreement to spread through the transport chain.

The company agreed to a suite of provisions during enterprise bargaining discussions with the Transport Workers Union (TWU) last year, including requiring outside hire to complete audit forms detailing information about their work practices, employees and remuneration.

"We’d like to see that permeate through the industry because we don’t take kindly to fleet owners or contractors breaching our own policies. We set a very high standard when it comes to driver behaviour, fatigue within our business," D’Apice says.

As part of the deal, audit forms must be signed on an annual basis and be made available to the TWU upon request. Furthermore, Linfox must consult the union on any plans to outsource work.

TWU delegates will, upon request, have the power to look over the payslips, wage records, log books, run sheets and superannuation records of Linfox sub-contractors and owner-drivers.

"We had no difficulty with the TWU in reaching agreements on how those procedures and processes and contracts would be audited and reviewed," D’Apice, who made the comments at the recent Safe Rates Summit in Canberra, says.

"We are using some technology…which will go round the country and these things will be audited regularly to make sure all our sub-contractors and fleet owners are compliant with their own legal obligations."

The enterprise agreement requires sub-contractors and owner-drivers to rectify any breach and assure Linfox it will not be repeated. The company needs to discuss with union delegates any action taken against offenders.

The union made similar agreements with other big-name companies, such as Toll and TNT. TWU delegates in late October met Toll representatives to argue the need for the company to begin auditing its sub-contractors and owner-drivers.

"The priority is the audit forms because what’s happening in the transport industry is there’s people cutting corners left, right and centre to make ends meet," union coordinator Graham Garrett said at the time.

During his address to the summit, D’Apice told attendees Linfox’s focus on improving safety standards through its ‘vision zero’ program has come at a cost in terms of training and encouraging people to accept change.

"There’s cost to all that but we happily wear that because we want our people going home each day," he says.

D’Apice also reiterated Linfox’s support for the TWU’s safe rates campaign and labelled the studies on conditions in the trucking industry as "an eye opener".

"All the data I saw was all about we’ve got a problem. It was all about behaviours, all about an industry that’s so competitive it’s eating itself," he says.

"In the absence of any academic study rebutting reports that I’ve read, I take them as correct and we support those findings and we do believe that there is a connection between how people are remunerated and safety."

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