Downsizing the owner/driver fleet

Downsizing the owner/driver fleet
Published: 14 January 2005

Cement Australia is planning to lift the number of directly employed truck drivers in NSW and Queensland, continuing the transport industry’s move away from the traditional owner-driver model.   The cement group jointly owned by Britain’s Hanson, Swiss-based Holcim and ASX-listed Rinker said negotiations with drivers were in the early stages. But general manager supply chain Glen Thomas said the company was considering greater reliance on direct employees (reports Australian financial News). The move away from owner-drivers continues as decisions in industrial tribunals deliver contract workers similar rights to employees. 

"The transport industry has definitely seen a shift," said Clayton Utz’s head of workplace relations, Joe Catanzariti.   Employers are thinking "what’s the advantage of having individual contractors when they’re being lumped with the same problems as if they were employees?", he said. 

In 2003, Boral abandoned owner-drivers in the ACT in favour of a more flexible company-owned fleet. In the transport industry, owner-drivers have won special rights and are fighting to make all users of truck services responsible for driver safety. Mr Catanzariti said the industry was unique but labelled it the leading edge of a growing trend.