TWU's 'Trojan horse' attempt on safe rates riles ALC

ALC slams TWU’s “disingenuous” attempt to use the carbon tax as justification for safe rates

July 26, 2011

A union attempt to use the carbon tax to secure sweeping changes to trucking pay rates has drawn the ire of the Australian Logistics Council, which says government must not give into demands for reform.

Days after Transport Workers Union boss Tony Sheldon let fly at Workplace Relations Minister Chris Evans over a lack of action on safe rates, the ALC has accused the TWU of trying to use the carbon tax as "Trojan horse" to introduce a new remuneration scheme.

The union will not support a carbon tax unless Prime Minister Julia Gillard delivers on safe rates. Sheldon says changes will negate the effect of the tax because drivers will have a form of cost recovery.

He claims the carbon tax will send fatality rates "through the roof" because drivers will be forced to work longer hours to make ends meet.

The TWU wants a tribunal set up to rule on pay rates, but ALC CEO Michael Kilgariff says the union is "disingenuous" to argue that cost increases from a carbon tax justify a new rate-setting structure.

"The TWU’s campaign to use the carbon tax to pressure the government on safe rates is a clever ploy but, in reality, the two are very separate issues and should be treated as such," Kilgariff says.

"Government should see this carbon price campaign by the TWU for what it really is – an attempt to blur the two issues in order to push through an uncosted proposal that cannot be implemented and will not deliver additional safety outcomes over the current statutory schemes."

The ALC, which counts Toll, Linfox, Coles and Woolworths among its members, opposes a push to regulate pay rates.

It favours a self-regulating code of conduct and improved education and training.

The ALC believes the introduction of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, which will focus on chain of responsibility and occupational health and safety, will put the onus on the industry to eliminate or minimise health and safety risks.

"In this context, ALC believes there is no case for yet another entirely new layer of regulation when other regulatory and non-regulatory mechanisms which have been (or are being) introduced to deal with the issue of safety appear to be working," Kilgariff says.

The Federal Government is currently considering responses to its proposal to reform pay rates. It released a discussion paper in November last year outlining possible changes, including establishing a tribunal to set different rates for industry sectors and vehicle configurations.

During his appearance on Sky News on July 24, Sheldon accused Evans of doing nothing.

"We’ve got a minister who I would describe as the character out of Weekend at Bernie’s; he’s the dead guy that stands in the middle," Sheldon told the program.

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