Hannifey supports safe rates


Rod Hannifey throws his support behind safe rates to keep owner-drivers viable and fend off market domination from major transporters

By Brad Gardner | February 23, 2011

Trucking advocate Rod Hannifey has thrown his support behind safe rates to keep owner-drivers viable and to fend off market domination from the major transporters.

The tireless industry promoter has accepted the evidence of a link between low rates of pay and poor safety, and says large companies pressure drivers to work harder while paying them an insufficient rate.

Hannifey says owner-drivers who do not receive a sufficient rate have little time for rest or sleep and cannot complete maintenance on their vehicles.

Unless smaller competitors are given assistance, Hannifey fears they will disappear.

"If small operators are unable to compete, the big companies will eventually control the market and there will be little if any competition," he says.

"From my point of view there is an undeniable link between rates and road safety."

While saying a safe rates scheme might increase consumer prices, Hannifey argues that companies need to receive a fair and proper return on their investment.

He criticises the actions of major transport companies for putting demands on drivers.

"If you don’t get it [freight] there, no matter what the excuse or how you felt, you can be punished or starved of work," Hannifey says.

He made the comments in a written submission to the Federal Government, which is planning to introduce a safe rates scheme to ensure employees and owner-drivers are paid enough to make ends meet.

The Government pledged to reform remuneration methods after the release of a report from the National Transport Commission (NTC) in 2008.

Citing coronial and academic findings pointing to a link between economics and safety, the NTC urged government intervention in the marketplace.

Industry groups such as NatRoad and the South Australian Road Transport Association do not believe a safe rates scheme will improve safety.

NatRoad has proposed the Government focus on paid waiting times because owner-drivers are forced to wait unpaid for up to 10 hours to load or unload vehicles.

In his submission, Hannifey also criticises the work diary. He says drivers are unfairly penalised with heavy fines for minor mistakes such as forgetting to record a date.

"Drivers with years of experience are being driven out of the industry due to large fines," he says.

Hannifey says establishing a safe rates scheme will not be easy, but he adds that "those at the top of the transport chain cannot continue to become wealthy from the lives, or lack of a life, of long distance truckies".


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