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Fair Work Ombudsman alleges operator underpaid truckies

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The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has commenced legal action against a Brisbane-based road freight transport company and a company director.

The regulator began an investigation after receiving requests for assistance from two workers who were employed at Alpine Fresh Pty Ltd on a casual basis as drivers.

One worker was employed from October 2014 to July 2020 and the other was employed from October 2018 to September 2020.

A Fair Work Inspector issued two Compliance Notices to Alpine Fresh in March 2021 after forming a belief the two workers had been underpaid the minimum cents-per-kilometre rate owed under the Road Transport and Distribution Award (Long Distance Operations) 2010 and the Road Transport and Distribution Award (Long Distance Operations) 2020.

It’s alleged one of the workers was also underpaid casual loading rates under the Road Transport and Distribution Award 2010 and Road Transport and Distribution Award 2020.

The FWO alleges the company, without reasonable excuse, failed to comply with the Compliance Notices, which required it to calculate and back-pay the workers’ outstanding entitlements. It’s alleged the company director was involved in the contraventions.

The FWO is seeking penalties against Alpine Fresh Pty Ltd and its director for allegedly failing to comply with the two Compliance Notices. The company faces a maximum penalty of up to $33,300 for each alleged contravention, while the director faces a maximum penalty of up to $6600 for each alleged contravention.

The regulator is also seeking an order for the company to comply with the Compliance Notices, which includes rectifying any underpayments in full, plus interest and superannuation.

Acting Fair Work Ombudsman Kristen Hannah said the regulator would continue to enforce workplace laws and take businesses to court where lawful requests are not complied with.

“Where employers do not comply, we will take appropriate action to protect employees. A court can order a business to pay penalties in addition to back-paying workers,” said Hannah.

“Any employees with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact the Fair Work Ombudsman for free assistance.”

Big Rigs has approached Alpine Fresh for comment.

A directions hearing is listed in the Federal Circuit and Family Court in Brisbane on October 8, 2021.

UPDATE:

A company spokesperson tells Big Rigs that Alpine Fresh had supplied the FWO all the necessary information and denies any allegations of wrong-doing.

“This is a real kick in the guts to people who are just trying to get on with their jobs.”

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