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A company’s defence of a truck driver’s attempt to claim a loading allowance merely for opening the curtains of a truck has succeeded in the Federal Circuit Court.
J&C Independent Carriers was forced to defend its stance when a casual driver brought the case to trial in August, and faced a claim of $77,391 had it lost. The claim was essentially that “any part of the process of loading or unloading as such gave rise to an entitlement to the allowance”, the judge states in his decision.
In the ruling, it was found that the the loading and unloading allowance in the Road Transport (Long Distance Operations) Award 2010 encompassed more than just the unlatching and opening of the curtains and use of straps.
The judge notes that under Award definitions, “loading or unloading means being physically engaged in the loading or unloading of the vehicle and includes tarping, installing and removing gates and operation of on board cranes”.
He also takes into account that there have been no efforts to amend that provision in the past eight years, particularly to equate curtains with tarps, even though curtains, arguably, can have a restraining characteristic.
J&C’s position was that using strapping to restrain a load is a safety and driving issue and unrelated to loading and unloading.
While the driver had claimed he had used a forklift at the company, the evidence as was submitted was deemed insufficient.