Tip Top contracts in spotlight over conditions

By: Cobey Bartels


Drivers claim situation sees them out of pocket and working dangerous hours

Tip Top contracts in spotlight over conditions
Owner-drivers speak out on The 7.30 Report against reductions in pay and long hours.

 

A number of New South Wales truck drivers spoke out ABC’s 7.30 Report, highlighting systemic issues with long hours and lost income.

The company the drivers deliver for is Tip Top, one of Australia’s best-known bread suppliers, and these say they risk their livelihood by going to the media about pay issues.

One driver, Graeme Wong, told ABC he worked 15 weeks in a row with only two days off, and was exhausted.

He says he made Tip Top aware he’d worked more than 100 days in a row, because he couldn’t afford a relief driver.

"One morning there I knew I'd just hit rock-bottom," Graeme said.

"I was sitting in the car park in the truck at three in the morning and contemplating what I was even doing.

"I didn't know what to do, you know - I called Lifeline."

All of the drivers that spoke in the report voiced concerns with a decrease in weekly wages, despite an increase in the cost of owning and running a truck.

"In seven years, the money went down by $1,000 a week, but the costs - everything goes up," Graeme said.

Drivers negotiate their per-loaf rate and while they’re all doing the same job, pays vary.

In essence, this means drivers are forced to work greater hours for less pay thanks to what is being called a "regulatory black hole".

"Independent contractors are uniquely vulnerable and it could be changed with a stroke of a legislative pen," Maurice Blackburn Employment Law Principal Alexandra Grayson said.  

"It just requires the political will to do so."

The ABC reports Tip Top as saying the rates aim to ensure "owner operators receive in excess of any applicable rate payable under the Road Transport and Distribution Award 2010".

The Transport Workers' Union (TWU) has demanded answers following the report. 

"The NSW Industrial Relations system provides protections to some owner drivers only, while others are left to the savagery of price-gouging clients," TWU NSW Secretary Richard Olsen said.

"We will continue to fight for these drivers and are seeking a meeting with the NSW Treasurer to have a minor section of the law amended so that bread delivery drivers can have minimum protections and a regulatory body to turn to."

Check out the video here.

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