In a recent article from the Toronto Star, unfair labour practices in Ontario’s trucking industry have cost truck drivers enormous amounts of money in lost wages. Among other questionable labour practices, the Driver Inc. business model appears to be at the heart of the issue.
Driver Inc. is a business model where drivers are paid as contractors instead of company employees even though they do not own their trucks, have the ability to set their own work hours, or influence their conditions. The reason why the business model is so common is because it allows the company to avoid paying the higher taxes that would be required if the drivers were employees, all while retaining ownership over the trucks and control over the drivers.
True, independent owner-operator truck drivers own their vehicles, have their own operating authorities, and operate their own businesses. Lease operators, by contrast, haul exclusively for a single company. But Driver Inc. operators don’t pass the contractor test while still paying workers as such, a system which saves companies significant money in wages.
In Brampton, ON, wage disputes in the trucking industry have led to protests and intense legal battles, with drivers fighting companies and companies retaliating against their drivers. Industry associations, governments, and ethically-operated companies are searching for ways to combat Driver Inc. and other unfair labour practices, so perhaps the increased attention will focus enforcement efforts on those perpetrating the unethical practices.