TWU Qld takes Cleanaway to task on rate reduction

Adjustments for contractors can rise as well but union is unimpressed

TWU Qld takes Cleanaway to task on rate reduction
Peter Biagini


Cleanaway appears stuck in the Transport Workers Union (TWU) crosshairs over its treatment of drivers.

The waste management company comes to the union’s attention a second time over media revelations, this time concerning its Queensland operations.

The issue centres on retrospective consumer price index-related rate adjustments announced in letters to contractors including owner-drivers, as reported in the Australian Financial Review (AFR) newspaper.

The adjustments reportedly cut both ways but a reduction – in this case, due to falls in inflation and oil prices along with other Covid-related issues but apparently quite heavy at 7.2 per cent – reportedly leads to a debt owed to the company.

The latest issue comes after the AFR reported management and fleet safety concerns.

Read how Cleanaway came to be in the TWU’s sights most recently, here

While the policy has an aspect of fairness over the long term, the TWU’s Queensland branch is taking a dim view, particularly given a general lack of regulatory oversight.

"Our branch is asking any drivers who have been ripped off by Cleanaway to contact them urgently following revelations that the company has been forcing savage pay cuts on drivers and even asking them to pay money back," TWU Queensland branch secretary Peter Biagini says.

"To cut a driver’s pay and force them to get into debt paying back money for work already carried out is reprehensible and dangerous.

"Research over many decades shows that when drivers struggle financially, they are forced to work longer hours and take on more work in order to feed their families and keep their businesses going.

"This results in drivers being sweated and trucks being sweated and it’s a deadly mix that can result in serious injury and death on our roads. There is a reason why trucking is Australia’s deadliest industry and this kind of pressure is behind it.

"We would like to see what safety analysis Cleanaway carried out before firing these letters off to owner drivers cutting their pay and asking them to pay money back?

"What risk assessment did they take? Does the company have a cost model that ensures these drivers can maintain their vehicles while still taking home a safe rate?

"Yet again the case of Cleanaway is highlighting the need for an independent tribunal to investigate risks to safety in trucking.

"Despite all the revelations which have emerged in recent weeks of a disregard for safety and a culture of abuse, there is no agency which can investigate this company and the risks it potentially poses. What other revelations are yet to emerge?"

Cleanaway is reportedly willing to discuss with owner-drivers any difficulties that arise from the policy.


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