Sunset ordered to play ball amid claims of Ruttley link

Sunset Logistics hit with unfair dismissal claim, as union alleges dealings with owner of failed company Ruttley Freightlines

Sunset ordered to play ball amid claims of Ruttley link
Sunset ordered to play ball amid claims of Ruttley link

By Brad Gardner | March 5, 2012

The trucking company run by a former Ruttley Freightlines manager will be forced to defend an unfair dismissal claim amid suggestions it has a business deal with Bob Ruttley.

Fair Work Australia has given the green light for David Pedersen to pursue his claim against Sunset Logistics, which is accused of firing him after he damaged a truck in a minor traffic accident in September last year.

Sunset is run by Adam Glanville, who purchased assets from his former employer before it went into administration in October 2011. Pedersen says he drove for Ruttley Freightlines before switching over to Sunset in August last year.

Fair Work Australia Deputy President Peter Sams organised a hearing to decide if Sunset should respond to the unfair dismissal claim after the company denied ever hiring Pedersen directly.

Sunset’s accountant, Perry Giannopoulos, wrote to the industrial umpire prior to proceedings and claimed Pedersen was an employee of the Ruttley-owned Bolivia Employment Services, which went into administration in October. Giannopoulos claims Sunset contracted to Bolivia for work.

A Transport Workers Union (TWU) official, Adam Guy, told Sams that Pedersen received payslips from Bolivia Employment Services while working for Glanville.

"In oral submissions, Mr Guy put that it appeared that Mr Glanville may be in some form of business partnership with Mr Robert Ruttley, who was the owner and director of Bolivia Employment Services, and that, at one stage, the applicant may have been employed by Bolivia. However, he was not employed by Bolivia at the time of termination," Sams says.

ATN reported on the collapse of Ruttley Freightlines last year. While Ruttley declined requests to speak on the record, he rejected claims of a direct involvement in Sunset Logistics.

Sams ruled that Sunset should bear responsibility for responding to Pedersen’s unfair dismissal claim because it "exercised almost exclusive control over all of his work related duties".

The TWU argued that Glanville solely managed Pedersen’s work and verbally confirmed to the driver he worked for Sunset Logistics. Furthermore, the union told Sams that Glanville was responsible for Pedersen being paid despite his payslips listing Bolivia as his employer.

A representative for Sunset did not appear at the hearing and the company did not respond to attempts by Fair Work Australia to contact it.

"As I propose to issue an order naming Sunset Logistics Pty Ltd as the respondent to this application, I trust someone with the appropriate authority within Sunset Logistics Pty Ltd will ultimately address the substantive claim of the applicant in respect to his alleged unfair dismissal," Sams says.

Sunset is listed as a separate entity to Ruttley Freightlines, but when Pedersen contacted Glanville about the accident in September the driver says he was told to call Bob Ruttley.

Fair Work Australia heard that Pedersen was instantly dismissed and that when he phoned Glanville about his severance payments he was once again told to speak to Ruttley.

When Pedersen asked about Sunset Logistics, Glanville is alleged to have replied: "That was all bullshit. I didn’t buy any trucks. I’m just driving for Bob."

Pedersen eventually got hold of Ruttley but was directed to Giannopoulos when he enquired about his holiday pay and notice payments.

Giannopoulos, who appeared to be speaking in the context of Bolivia, is said to have replied: "Well you don’t get a cent when a company goes bankrupt."

The actions drew criticism from Sams, who also took a shot at Sunset for failing to respond to Fair Work’s attempts to contact it.

"I am troubled by the buck passing of responsibility that occurred after the applicant’s dismissal and the objector’s apparent disdain for these proceedings," Sams says.

Pedersen told Fair Work Australia he worked for Glanville after he was notified Ruttley Freightlines would cease trading.

BRI Ferrier was appointed administrator of Ruttley Freightlines on October 20. The holding company for Ruttley Freightlines, Kalae, was convicted and fined more than $290,000 in April 2011 for overloading offences between 2008 and 2011.

Global logistics firm UTI and toll operator CityLink were also pursuing the firm for unpaid bills.

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