Safe rates group meets; proposal close


Details of a proposed fixed pay rates scheme for truck drivers may soon be released, as a group established to develop it prepares to finalise its options paper

By Brad Gardner | June 7, 2010

Details of a proposed fixed pay rates scheme for truck drivers may soon be released, as a group established to develop it prepares to finalise its options paper.

The 12 members of the Safe Rates Advisory Group brought together by Workplace Relations Minister Julia Gillard in 2009 is meeting today for what may be the final time.

The group was set up following a recommendation by the National Transport Commission (NTC) for an overhaul to remuneration methods in the trucking industry.

A report it commissioned found a relationship between low rates of pay and poor road safety.

"Depending on the discussions at that meeting [on June 7], their contribution to the options paper may be fairly well concluded, but there may be the need for another meeting," Deputy Secretary of Workplace Relations John Kovacic told a budget estimates hearing last week.

He told estimates the findings of the options paper, which is expected to include a proposal for chain of responsibility for pay, will be released for consultation so stakeholders can provide feedback to the Rudd Government.

"The feedback will be considered and it will be a matter for government to consider what, if any, initiatives it may wish to take in this sort of area," Kovacic says.

Barrister and member of the Safe Rates Advisory Group Adam Hatcher last month argued the case for all parties in the supply chain to be bound by safe rates.

"The problem is not that most employers are simply ripping off their workers by denying them a fair wage, it is because they themselves can’t recover sufficient money from the person next up the contracting chain," Hatcher says.

"It’s not just about payment to employees, it’s about the whole contracting chain so that everyone in the industry up to the clients takes responsibility for the outcomes by paying decent rates of pay at all levels of the chain."

The Safe Rates Advisory Group is made up of Linfox, Scott’s Transport, Bluescope Steel and representatives of the Transport Workers Union.

The Victorian Transport Association and the Queensland Trucking Association have also been given a seat at the table, with industrial relations expert Scott Chamberlin chairing the meetings.

Fatigue management expert Professor Ann Williamson from the University of NSW Paul Ryan from the Australian Road Transport Industrial Organisation (ARTIO) are also members.

Kovacic says the group has met on December 16 last year, April 15 and May 12.

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