WARRNAMBOOL and south-west transport companies have been involved in a Fair Work Ombudsman road transport campaign which has revealed workplace breaches within the industry.
The Victoria-wide campaign was held in response to more than 200 complaints from the Victorian road freight transport industry during 2010.
The industry generated the second-highest number of complaints after cafes and restaurants.
Key stakeholders, including the Victorian Transport Association, Livestock Transport Association and Transport Workers Union, were advised of the campaign.
More than 500 regional transport employers from Horsham to Bairnsdale and Warrnambool to Mildura were contacted to advise them about changes to workplace relations laws and the free services provided by the Fair Work Ombudsman.
Businesses randomly selected for auditing included livestock transport, removal companies, interstate and internal transport operators, freight and refrigerated transport firms.
In September 2010, Fair Work inspectors reviewed the employment records of 32 employers to assess their compliance with workplace laws and found 27 (or 84 per cent) had contraventions.
A follow-up audit of the 27 businesses in June 2011 identified that 18 or two-thirds still had contraventions, including incorrect payments for overtime, meal allowances, penalty and public holiday rates and incomplete record-keeping.
The campaign has recovered a total of $98,159, with individual employers paying between $676 and $39,736 in outstanding employee entitlements.
Fair Work Ombudsman Nicholas Wilson said the aim of the campaign was to provide education and direct advice to employers about their obligations.
“Over the years, we have received a large number of complaints from the transport industry, and it is concerning that this trend is continuing,” he said.
Some of those complaints were lodged confidentially as country workers are reluctant to come forward for fear of reprisal.
“There are many trainee and apprentice drivers and employees working across this sector, and we want to ensure they are receiving their lawful minimum entitlements,” Mr Wilson said.
“As with many other sectors, contraventions are often inadvertent, which is why we are strongly focused on providing advice and access to practical resources like online pay and leave calculators.”
Employers or employees seeking assistance or information can visit www.fairwork.gov.au or call the Fair Work Infoline on 131 394.
The website has a number of tools and resources, including PayCheckPlus and an Award Finder, to assist business owners to calculate the correct pay for their employees.