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Linfox exec takes aim at kilometre rates

Linfox HR boss Laurie D’Apice blames kilometre rates for leaving linehaul truck drivers shortchanged

By Brad Gardner | February 28, 2012

A senior Linfox executive has taken aim at kilometre rates, blaming the payment method for leaving linehaul truck drivers shortchanged.

Linfox President of Human Resources Laurie D’Apice says many long-distance drivers are paid on a cents per kilometre basis, but have to forego compensation when they are delayed during their trips.

He says prime contractors are often unable to pay drivers more because customers insist on contracts with trip rates.

“Quite often, or more often than not, there is no money to be paid to them because the principle contractor is not getting paid any extra money,” D’Apice says.

“Quite often they are also being paid a trip rate by the customer. So there is just no money to be paid.”

D’Apice, who made the comments in his appearance before a recent parliamentary inquiry into the proposed safe rates tribunal, suggested the fixed nature of kilometre rates contributed to poor safety.

“The evidence or academic studies or research would suggest that that leads to people cutting corners,” he says.

A 2008 National Transport Commission (NTC) report that recommended government intervention in the marketplace cited incentive-based payments such as kilometre rates for encouraging unsafe practices.

“There are many instances on the interstate highways where drivers are paid cents per kilometre,” D’Apice says.

“They are simply being paid for a job that has known kilometres and a predetermined time. When it takes five hours more, they actually then demand payment.”

Despite opposition to safe rates from its competitors such as Toll, Linfox has thrown its support behind a union-led campaign to reform pay rates.

D’Apice appeared at the Transport Workers Union’s Safe Rates Summit in Canberra last year, where he referred to the studies on conditions in the trucking industry as “an eye opener”.

“In the absence of any academic study rebutting reports that I’ve read, I take them as correct and we support those findings and we do believe that there is a connection between how people are remunerated and safety,” he said at the time.

The Federal Government intends to establish a tribunal on July 1 to rule on remuneration and remuneration-related conditions for truck drivers, including paid waiting times and payment terms.

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