Safe rates clears House of Reps

Government plan to overhaul trucking pay rates clears the House of Representatives

Safe rates clears House of Reps
Safe rates clears House of Reps

March 19, 2012

The Federal Government’s plan to overhaul trucking pay rates has cleared its first hurdle, passing the House of Representatives today.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard cobbled together enough numbers to send the Road Safety Remuneration Bill to the Senate, where it is now expected to pass with the support of the Greens.

The Coalition voted against the Bill, which will establish a tribunal on July 1 to rule on pay rates and remuneration-related conditions for employee drivers and sub-contractors.

A 2008 National Transport Commission report recommended government intervention on the basis low rates of pay and incentive-based payments encouraged drivers to commit unsafe practices, such as speed, to do their job.

Transport Workers Union (TWU) National Secretary Tony Sheldon, who has led the push for the tribunal, says it will make roads safer and hold major retailers accountable.

"It has been known for decades that there is a safety crisis in the road transportation industry and that this is linked to the rates of pay for truck drivers and the economic power of retailers," Sheldon says.

He says the dominance of the major retailers allows them to dictate delivery schedules and prices and force drivers to queue unpaid for hours on end.

"This pressure on truckies to meet unrealistic and often impossible deadlines and schedules results in truckies driving too far, too fast and for too long simply to put food on the table," he says.

Labelling trucking "Australia’s deadliest industry", Sheldon says the Bill will lead to fairer pay and conditions for drivers.

"On behalf of every road user, hundreds of thousands of truck drivers and their families, I want to thank every MP who voted in support of this legislation," Sheldon says.

The Coalition does not believe there is a link between pay and safety and claims the Bill is payback for the TWU’s support for Labor.

Opposition spokesman on transport Warren Truss has also criticised an amendment requiring all collective agreements between owner-drivers and prime contractors to gain the approval of the tribunal.

"The amendment would have the effect that all current agreements, except those made under existing state regulatory regimes, between groups of owner-drivers and hirers would be null and void as they are not approved road transport collective agreements," Truss says.

The clause does not apply to agreements made under the NSW Industrial Relations Act, the Victorian Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Act and the Owner-Driver (Contracts and Disputes) Act in Western Australia.

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