Toll Group has provided an almost empty-handed offer on cost recovery for diesel for owner-operators carting groceries for Woolworths from its Minchinbury DC, says the Transport Workers’ Union (TWU).
The union says Toll has not heard small business owner concerns, and has offered the subbies just 10 cents a pallet extra to combat the rising costs of running a heavy vehicle.
Diesel is costing anywhere from $500-$1000 extra per week for each truck and drivers are still recovering from the temporary removal of the Fuel Tax Credit scheme.
In early September, owner-operators sought relief from Toll management about the costs pressure on their small businesses because of the crippling impacts of the recent diesel price hikes.
They parked up at the DC for much of the day in protest, taking their concerns to Sydney Toll general manager, Steve Innes.
Later that same day the truckies went back to work after the company initially agreed to support cost recovery for drivers by committing to correct the rate for fuel charges in the unit/hourly rates owner-operators receive.
“Toll have missed the point their contracted drivers were making,” said TWU state secretary Richard Olsen.
“Toll, who have reported a $7.6 billion revenue for 2022, have ignored driver concerns about their costs of doing business and have come up almost empty-handed in their response.
“Let’s put the Toll Group offer into real terms: it’s a kick in the teeth for these owner-operators driving Toll’s business forward.
“Toll’s idea of cost relief is around 1 litre of diesel at today’s prices per 22 pallets on a single trailer. It covers the first 2 kilometres of a driver’s trip. It is even less than the cost of a litre of milk at Woolworths.”
Over the past year, the union said the struggling owner-operators expressed safety concerns to Toll Group management based on cost recovery issues.
“Operators are asking for a fair rate of pay that ensures they can maintain vehicles, recover out of control costs from fuel and Transurban toll roads, take home a decent wage and ensure safety and fairness as they work for Toll,” added Olsen.
“Owner-operators are expected to carry the costs. They are the people that keep Toll’s business moving, and kept it moving during the pandemic. Toll’s offer is disrespectful and it amounts to wage theft.”
Olsen said the union is now “assessing all avenues” toward resolving the matter.
“Industrial action is always considered in any of these matters. We will also have further meetings with the members to determine which way to go.”
The TWU is also highlighting the urgent need for supply chain accountability to ensure cost recovery does not become a struggle for owner operators. Transport is the deadliest industry in Australia and one of the highest for insolvencies.
“We welcome the federal government’s intention to make transport a fairer, safer, and more sustainable industry by setting enforceable standards through the Fair Work Commission, this is lifesaving reform,” Olsen said.
Big Rigs has approached Toll Group for comment.