Low wages drive Toll's US operation

Truck drivers working for Toll in the US are earning as little as $12.72 an hour

By Brad Gardner | March 23, 2012

Toll’s US transport operation is being driven on the back of low wages, with truck drivers taking home as little as $12.72 an hour.

In its decision granting Toll’s Los Angeles wharf cartage drivers the right to vote on whether to unionise, the US National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) revealed the pay packets the company’s workforce takes home.

Despite Toll last year agreeing to a wage increase of at least 10 percent over three years for its Australian truck drivers, the firm’s largesse has not extended abroad.

"Drivers are paid $12.72 - $13.24 per hour, plus incentive pay, which is a set amount for certain designated routes," NLRB Regional Director Marlin Osthus says in his written decision.

Some of Toll’s US forklift drivers receive barely more than the country’s minimum wage, with pay starting at $9.06 and peaking at $14.06 per hour.

Warehouse labourers are worse off, with the NLRB stating Toll pays them between $8.50 and $11.80 an hour. Those with more responsibilities, warehouse leads, get between $11 and $19.32 per hour for their troubles, Osthus says.

"Dispatchers work 40 hours per week and occasionally work additional hours, but never receive overtime," he adds.

"The dispatchers’ salaries equal an hourly range of $13.54 - $16.36 an hour."

The wages for Toll’s mechanics vary considerably, with the lowest paid receiving $10.50 per hour. The highest wage is $25.75, but Osthus says it is unknown how long their shifts are.

Meanwhile, customer service representatives take home between $10.93 and $18.04 per hour for manning the phones and managing customer accounts.

Former Toll Managing Director Paul Little last year claimed the company's US truck drivers received above average pay, while Australian drivers took home 20 percent more than the award rate. The average hourly rate for US port truckers is estimated at $12.10.

Toll’s US management wanted all of its logistics personnel included in the ballot, which has been scheduled for April 11.

Osthus threw out the application, ruling that only truck drivers should be included because they have separate employment conditions, pay arrangements and are under separate supervision to other staff.

"Not one of the classifications that the employer seeks to add performs the work of the drivers, has the qualifications to perform the work of the drivers, or has the necessary skills to become a driver," he says.

"Mechanics are not required to have the multiple qualifications expected of the drivers, and they are not highly regulated by the DOT [US Department of Transportation]."

The application for a ballot was made by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which has waged a lengthy campaign to negotiate wages and conditions on behalf of Toll’s truck drivers. It has accused the company of trying to deny the drivers the right to unionise, which Toll has denied.

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