16 Jul 2018

Courier drivers leaving guns outside homes

From Checkpoint, 5:15 pm on 16 July 2018

Delivery drivers are dropping firearms off at people's doors despite them requiring a signature, but one industry insider tells Checkpoint drivers are being exploited in what he says is "indentured slavery". 

A PBT Couriers driver left this package, with a gun inside, leaning next to the front door because no one was home.

A PBT Couriers driver left this package, with a gun inside, leaning next to the front door because no one was home. Photo: SUPPLIED

Last week courier company PBT came under fire after one of its drivers left a sign-for package with a gun in it outside someone's house.

Another incident has been revealed and has brought to light the standards in which courier drivers must work, forcing them to leave packages unsigned for.

Most courier drivers are owner-operators and, therefore, work at a rate determined by the company for which they work, which is per delivery. A driver's pay is impacted if they do not deliver a package.

Peter Gallagher from Pro Drive, a contractor driver advocacy organisation, said the situation was worse than many imagined.

"[They're] effectively working in the form of indentured slaves. I'm afraid that's close to the truth.

"They are simply at the whim of the boss and have to do whatever is required of them.

"I doubt that there is a single company who would put forward its books on an examined basis and find that there was a living wage being paid to any single courier in this country."

Drivers had to buy their own cars and pay their own petrol, he said.

"[It] wouldn't take peeling back too many layers of the onion to see that it is actually a form of designed exploitation."

Minister for Workplace Relations Iain Lees-Galloway said the contractor system was not working.

"I don't think it is a good situation.

"There is a shared view these days that it isn't ideal and we need to find a new set of protocols."

Last week PBT general manager of couriers Brett Chatfield admonished the courier who left the gun behind.

"It doesn't look very good because it's a fairly serious incident which we would view in the light of serious misconduct from the driver."

However, today he was not available for comment. Nor was the courier company Freightways.

The First Union cannot go to bat for drivers as they are contractors. Its transport and logistics secretary Jared Abbott said collective bargaining was considered a form of price fixing for contractors and, therefore, unlawful.