No date set for safe rates

Government insists it is committed to introducing safe rates for trucking, but says reforms will happen "in a timely manner"

By Brad Gardner | May 20, 2011

The Federal Government insists it is committed to overhauling remuneration methods in the trucking industry, but will not set out a set date for the introduction of reforms.

Workplace Relations Parliamentary Secretary Jacinta Collins has told the Transport Workers Union’s federal council the government will progress safe rates "in a timely manner". A 2008 report commissioned by the National Transport recommended government intervention to fix rates.

The government last year released its Safe Rates, Safe Roads discussion paper outlining proposals to ensure drivers received a sustainable income.

"The government is committed to progressing this important issue in a timely manner and working with key stakeholders, including the TWU, to improve road safety for all Australians," Collins says.

During her speech to the council, Collins told the union the government is considering the options from the discussion paper and wants to ensure employees and owner-drivers receive a fair outcome.

The paper proposes expanding the role of Fair Work Australia to include granting owner-drivers employee-like conditions and hounding parties in the supply chain for unpaid bills.

Trucking association NatRoad wants the government to legislate paid waiting times instead, claiming it is the most pressing issue facing operators.

Heavyweight Toll is also opposed to safe rates. It argues owner-drivers will be worse off under the scheme.

Trucking advocate Rod Hannifey says it is essential smaller firms are given assistance and that there is "an undeniable link between rates and road safety".

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

The TWU has long campaigned for a safe rates model. National Secretary Tony Sheldon wants an independent tribunal set up with the power to hold the supply chain accountable.

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