Transport targeted

TRANSPORT will be the next industry targeted by the Department of Consumer and Employment Protection in its sweep to find employers failing to meet Award conditions.

The department started a similar investigation of the restaurant and catering industry in September, first hitting metropolitan businesses then turning its focus to the regions.

In Perth it found 90 per cent of restaurant and catering industry employers were breaching Award conditions.

Peak transport industry trans-port body, Transport Forum of WA, has been involved in initial discussions with DOCEP.

Transport Forum of WA chief executive officer Howard Croxon said the DOCEP was considering launching an investigation similar to the restaurant and catering industry’s.

“Earlier discussions dealt with how we might inform the industry about compliance issues and their responsibilities,” he said.

Mr Croxon expects an education process to begin later this month and the inspections to start in June.

“The difficulty with the transport industry is that most operate under a Federal Award or workplace agreements,” he said.

Mr Croxon hopes the DOCEP will enter into more talks before its investigation begin.

“We’re not comfortable about the investigation,” he said.

“On the other hand most people say that they are doing the right thing, there are always those who don’t and they will get caught.”

The transport industry is also undergoing a push to improve safety standards amongst operators.

The restaurant and catering industry was given a similar education period before investigations into its operations began.

Investigations into that industry, in what the department says will be an ongoing campaign, found a similar rate of non-compliance between its metropolitan and regional operators.

Of the 106 restaurants investigated in the regions, 80 per cent failed to keep proper time and wage records.

DOCEP has so far recovered more than $58,000 in workers’ entitlements in the regions and at the end of the year had recovered $61,000 for employees inadvertently underpaid.

However, no restaurant has been prosecuted for breaches of the State Industrial Relations Act.

A spokesman for Consumer and Employment Protection Minister John Kobelke said DOCEP was taking the targeted approach because it did not have sufficient resources to cover all industries at once.

“Mr Kobelke is yet to be advised of the current inspection program and of when it will be completed. He is also yet to be advised of the next area of focus of inspections.”

It appears almost certain that the Government’s Industrial Relations Reform Bill, which promises to make Award conditions the norm for all industries, will pass before the end of the financial year.

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