TWU to continue pursuit of Coles over driver classifications

By: Brad Gardner


TWU to appeal court decision that ruled the Road Transport Award did not apply to Coles delivery drivers.

TWU to continue pursuit of Coles over driver classifications
Coles successfully argued the Road Transport Award should not apply to its delivery drivers.

 

The Transport Workers Union (TWU) has vowed to pursue legal action against Coles over the way it classifies its delivery drivers, despite a court ruling in the retailer’s favour.

TWU Assistant National Secretary Michael Kaine says the union will appeal the Federal Circuit Court decision that found the Road Transport Award did not apply to two union members working for the online delivery arm of Coles.

The TWU alleged Stevan Gajdobranski and Cory Michael should have been employed under the Road Transport Award, which would have entitled them to higher wages and entitlements.

Coles successfully argued its drivers, dubbed customer service agents (CSA), should be covered under the General Retail Industry Award because they performed a range of duties including in-store work.

"Last week’s decision from the Federal Circuit Court must be challenged," Kaine says.

"Fighting for Coles Online drivers’ right to be recognised as transport workers is a fight that needs to happen – not only to deliver safety and fairness for Coles Online drivers but also to ensure the safety of every Australian road user."

Justice Rolf Driver ruled that all the tasks Gajdobranski and Michael performed fell within the scope of the Retail Industry Award, namely packing goods, receiving customer payments, wrapping goods for delivery, driving and delivering goods.

"In short, the CSA role does not simply involve the collection and delivery of goods from a warehouse," he says.

"Further CSAs do not generally perform any driving tasks other than those performed in discharging the delivery function. By way of example, CSAs do not undertake driving tasks to or from Coles’ suppliers or its distribution centres.

"As the Road Transport Award does not apply to Mr Michael and Mr Gajdobranski, they are not entitled to any overtime, allowances or penalties provided by that award. The TWU’s claims must therefore fail."

The union argued the Road Transport Award was more appropriate because the two men drove trucks over 4.5 tonnes and therefore fell within the meaning of ‘transport worker’ in the Award.

Furthermore, the TWU argued the drivers’ roles were more like those of warehousing and distribution workers as opposed to retail employees because they had to load and unload large volumes of produce.

Kaine claims the court’s decision will leave Coles’ drivers across Australia on dangerous terms and conditions.

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