Australia, Transport Industry News

ATA asks for government clarity on Closing Loopholes specifics

ATA chair

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) has called on the federal government and the Fair Work Commission (FWC) to make their priorities clear after the passing of the Closing Loopholes Bill.

ATA chair David Smith and the association’s general council are urging the FWC to focus on payment terms and fuel surcharges in its road transport contract chain orders.

The call arrived after the ATA’s Wednesday meeting last week.

“Payment terms and fuel surcharges are a longstanding problem for trucking businesses,” Smith says.

“We believe the industry and the TWU should be able to achieve a common position on these issues for the commission to consider,” he said.

Smith ensures the ATA will work alongside the Transport Workers Union to push the FWC in this direction.

TWU national secretary Michael Kaine says that they will work in tandem to ensure applications can be made from day one on matters that have the industry’s backing.

“Dangerous practices such as elongated payment times that push unsustainable financial risk onto transport operators and owner drivers on wafer-thin margins will be first cab off the rank,” he says.

The ATA has also asked the federal government to clarify the ‘right to disconnect’ laws included in the Closing Loopholes Bill, following a joint meeting with the Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association, the Western Roads Federation and minister Tony Burke.

Under these laws, employees will have a ‘right to disconnect’ which includes refusing to contact or respond to contact from an employer outside of their contracted working hours unless the refusal is unreasonable.

The FWC has the right to determine what ‘unreasonable’ factors may be, including the employee’s role and the level of responsibility they hold, and the compensation they receive for it.

There is no prohibition on employers contacting employees, and if they believe their employee’s refusal to be unreasonable, they can take the matter to the FWC.

The ATA says it will work with the FWC to set clear guidelines on these matters after members raised concerns. These included time zone differences, operational requirements, driver welfare checks, evolving schedules and emergency management.

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