TWU to bargain for owner-drivers

ACCC allows Queensland TWU to bargain for sub-contractors over claims the union needs to urgently intervene in negotiations

By Brad Gardner | November 1, 2010

The Queensland Transport Workers Union has been given the power to bargain for owner-drivers over claims there is an urgent need for it to intervene in negotiations.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has granted the TWU interim authorisation to begin collective bargaining talks with Q-crete, a subsidiary of Boral Resources.

The ruling begins immediately and applies to seven owner-drivers who the TWU claims have been unsuccessfully trying to negotiate terms for 18 months.

"The TWU submits that the request for interim authorisation has been driven by an urgent need to commence collective negotiations," the ACCC writes in a statement outlining its decision.

"Interim authorisation commences immediately and will remain in place until the date of the ACCC’s final determination comes into effect or is revoked."

The TWU will have the authority to bargain on cartage and penalty rates, fees for specialised loads, demurrage rates and the cost of painting and applying badges to prime movers.

"The TWU seeks authorisation for a period of five years and for the authorisation to cover seven owner drivers at this time and any future owner drivers that choose to join the bargaining group," the ACCC says.

"Participation in the bargaining group will be voluntary and individual owner drivers will be free to accept or reject the final terms of any document resulting from the collective negotiations."

Boral raised no objections to the TWU’s application because the union did not seek authorisation to engage in collective boycott actions.

The ACCC says the TWU will use the interim authorisation to begin bargaining but will not finalise negotiations until a final determination is made.

According to the competition watchdog, the decision to allow the TWU to intervene will not alter the market.

The ACCC believes interim authorisation might lead to efficiency gains because negotiations will begin while a decision is being reached on a final determination.

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