VTA seeks more detail on safe rates

Representative group accepts safe rates but wants more detail on how the reforms will affect industry

VTA seeks more detail on safe rates
VTA seeks more detail on safe rates
February 7, 2011

The Victorian Transport Association (VTA) says debate on the link between safety and pay is over, but wants more information on how safe rates will affect the trucking industry.

Following a workshop of more than 40 VTA members last month, the group has responded to the Federal Government’s Safe Rates / Safe Roads discussion paper.

The Government is planning to reform rates for owner-drivers to ensure they are paid enough to make ends meet. The move follows findings that low rates of pay lead to poor on-road safety.

The VTA has issued a set of questions it wants answered, including how safe rates will fit in with the recently released national road safety heavy vehicle strategy and chain of responsibility laws.

"The argument on any casual link has been had, and we must move ahead," VTA CEO Philip Lovel says.

The VTA has also questioned one of the proposed recommendations in the discussion paper to establish a tribunal under transport legislation to oversee pay rates.

According to the group, the powers of the tribunal are unclear and it has no power to arbitrate.

"Any tribunal must be empowered to look at the entire supply chain, including transport contracts," the VTA says.

It has also sought clarification on what sectors will be covered by the tribunal system.

The VTA says large trucking customers attended the January workshop and questioned safety being linked to rates, while other attendees raised concerns about increasing rates in uncertain economic times.

The Government has also suggested establishing a dedicated panel within Fair Work Australia to deal with owner-drivers. It has also proposed extending the Fair Work Act to allow Fair Work Australia to deal with sub-contractors.

The discussion paper refers to the work of respected US transport academic Associate Professor Michael Belzer, who found that every 10 percent increase in pay reduced the probability of a crash by 36 percent.

Stakeholders have been given until February 11 to respond to the paper after Parliamentary Secretary for Workplace Relations Senator Jacinta Collins extended the deadline beyond January 28.

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