A system designed to provide equal opportunities for drivers of concrete and cement trucks in Perth has been granted approval by the competition regulator in Australia and authorised for six more years despite its acknowledged potential to reduce competition between individual drivers.

Last week, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission issued a draft determination allowing aggregates, concrete and concrete pipe supplier Holcim Australia to continue using an Equal Opportunity of Trips system under which the workloads of all trucks in the Holcim fleet – whether owned by the company or independent drivers – are determined.

Having been in place since 2003, the company says the system is designed to ensure drivers have roughly equal access to delivery jobs by guaranteeing no truck will receive more than five per cent more or less work than the fleet average. This is achieved by monitoring the volume of concrete each truck is allocated via a points system which is calculated at the end of each month and prioritising trucks which were under-allocated by assigning them to higher frequency concrete production points. Trucks which have been over-allocated will not be assigned to higher frequency production points.

In its submission, the company says the system ensures work is allocated on a transparent and fair basis and eliminates the potential for discrimination or industrial disputes.

The ACCC agreed, saying the system had been authorised and in place for more than a decade and had worked well to ensure an equitable distribution of work.

While the system theoretically results in reduced competition between drivers, the ACCC said it was Holcim who was paying them and would suffer from any competition reduction – which was presumably not significant given that the company wanted to continue using the system.

Furthermore, the ACCC said it had received no public complaints about the system, which did not have any broader adverse impact upon the public at large.

“The allocation system provides a transparent mechanism for allocating concrete delivery jobs to Holcim’s trucks,” ACCC commissioner Dr Jill Walker said in a statement. “The system has been in place for ten years and has improved the reliability and efficiency of Holcim’s pre-mixed concrete services.”