For the past few weeks operators were struggling to find any reference at all in the contract which allows the department to pay rates based on, and changing with, the amount of students on a run. Well here it is, the only reference on that subject than anyone has so far been able to find. Written as plain as day for all to see. It came in the mail with the contract – on the cover letter. Yes, you read it correctly. THE COVER LETTER. And to think we all spent hours scouring the contract. Silly of us to presume it would be amongst the ‘legal’ documents.
“The department’s payment policy is to pay the Contractor the Department’s Daily Run Rate for the classification of vehicle required by the Department for a specific run or runs. There may be occasions where a run is offered to a contractor who, for example, tendered in the wagon (5-7 seat) category and the Contractor may choose to utilize a larger vehicle. In this circumstance the wagon payment rate would apply. Payment rates will be adjusted according to the changing numbers and needs of the students allocated to or removed from transport runs.”
What appears to be the only reference to this late inclusion, has huge implications. Obviously, if operators knew of the Department’s future interpretation of this paragraph, there would have been a much larger volume of runs handed back in January. Let’s take a closer look.
“The Department’s payment policy is to pay the Contractor the Department’s Daily Run Rate for the classification of vehicle required by the Department for a specific run or runs.”
Agreed. We know there are various vehicle classifications required by the Department, and of the applicable pay rates attached to each. We know a particular vehicle type would be “required” by the Department for it’s suitability for a run. But, we are not aware of the Department’s ultimate intent for that run.
“There may be occasions where a run is offered to a contractor who, for example, tendered in the wagon (5-7 seat) category and the Contractor may choose to utilize a larger vehicle. In this circumstance the wagon payment rate would apply.”
Doesn’t the word “choose” imply that there is a choice? To be able to “choose”, there must be something to choose from. What choices were given from which we were to choose?
“Payment rates will be adjusted according to the changing numbers and needs of the students allocated to or removed from transport runs.”
Understandably, our rates may go up or down as students are put on, or taken off a run, due to the varying Kilometers that would change, but at no time were we informed that the vehicle category of a run also changes with the rearranging of students. Following this logic, presumably the Department expect every operator, whether they have tendered or not, to have at their disposal, a vehicle from each category for when students are allocated “to or removed from” these runs. Now that is one huge capital cost I never counted on.
Verbal communication with the department prior to the start of the term, was that the vehicle supplied for that run determined the category of that run and NOT the number of students attached to it. While not the most professional method, it was understood and accepted by contractors. Details of vehicles were then requested and given.
It is therefore up to the Department’s run allocators, having available to them the entire ESP list, which contains all the necessary information for them to decide which operator suited each particular run. ie: Those that tendered for a Sedan would be offered a Sedan run, those who tendered for a People Mover would be offered a people mover run etc. To offer a run to a contractor who has tendered for a Maxi Bus, implies that the department requires a Maxi Bus. Whether that run has enough students to have that Maxi Bus running at, or near it’s capacity is irrelevant to the contractor. It is not our job to know the intent of the department as to why a Maxi Bus is needed. (It would be assumed that in the near future, other students may be added.)
If an additional run is offered to a contractor who has tendered in multiple categories, then at the offer stage, it would be necessary to advise the contractor which one of his tendered classifications this new run applies. If accepted by the contractor, he would know from the outset as to what sized vehicle he needs to supply, and from this, what rates he would expect to be paid.
The timing of this ludicrous interpretation defies logic. The raise to a 30 klm minimum set in January, was necessary to assure continuity for Term 1, while the absurd schedule of pay rates was being reviewed. To conceive another method detrimental to already struggling operators is malevolent and vengeful.