Archive, Industry News

TNT and union at odds over new allocation system

Commission wants TNT to consult TWU before introducing a new job allocation system in its courier operation

By Brad Gardner | December 4, 2012

TNT’s efforts to improve the running of its job allocation system have hit a roadblock, with the company told to consult the Transport Workers Union (TWU) before making changes.

The Industrial Relations Commission ruled that TNT should sit down with the TWU in New South Wales to discuss a number of issues about moving away from a radio-based call system to a GPS model for allocating jobs to courier contractors.

The TWU and couriers are resisting the change, despite TNT telling the commission it is necessary to improve efficiency. The new model has been introduced in all states except for NSW.

“I propose to recommend that the parties cooperate and consult further on the introduction of the direct allocation system,” Justice Roger Boland says.

He wants both parties to discuss the prospect of introducing a mechanism to protect the income of contractors for six months if they are adversely affected under the new system.

Boland also wants the TWU and TNT to look at the possibility of maintaining some of the existing radio system and to set clear rules that changes will not lead to favourtism in the allocation of jobs.

The existing set-up involves TNT notifying all drivers over the radio of jobs. Drivers can then bid for them. The TWU argues the system is transparent because drivers know if there is any favourtism in the allocation of jobs.

TNT says it is inefficient because radio room operators must wade through a number of driver bids before allocating jobs.

Conversely, the GPS system will allow the company to monitor a driver’s location and job status in real time and use that information to decide who is best placed to receive work.

Drivers will be notified individually of jobs on a personal display unit in their vehicles, similar to what is used in the taxi industry.

The TWU claims the change will undermine the contractor relationship because TNT will be unilaterally allocating jobs as opposed to accepting bids.

It also believes it will encourage unsafe practices because drivers will check the units while on the road, but Boland dismissed the union’s claim.

“What TNT has directed cannot be regarded as unsafe and it cannot be rendered an unsafe system because individual drivers disobey the direction and the road rules. If they do, the responsibility falls on them,” he says.

Boland says there is not enough evidence to show TNT’s proposal will lead to an employer/employee relationship.

“However, it seems to me that if TNT were to proceed to implement the system it would be prudent to first obtain advice about the implications of doing so,” he says.

Boland says TNT is within its rights to move to a new allocation system, but adds that he understands the concerns of the TWU and the courier drivers, who believe the current system works well.

“It is not for the commission to intervene by assuming the role of the business decision maker, but rather to assess whether what the decision maker proposes would impose unfair or unreasonable demands on contractors, including unsafe work practices,” he says.

Bookmark and Share

Previous ArticleNext Article
Send this to a friend