Pay tribunal's success will hinge on industry engagement

Quality of trucking industry's contribution to Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal will determine if the new regulatory body succeeds, president says

Pay tribunal's success will hinge on industry engagement
Pay tribunal's success will hinge on industry engagement
By Brad Gardner | September 14, 2012

An active and engaged trucking industry will determine how successful the new Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal will be, its President Jennifer Acton says.

In a recent speech to an Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) conference, Acton emphasised trucking had an important role to play in making sure the tribunal prospers in its role of stamping out unsafe practices.

The tribunal will have the power to issue remuneration orders, with decisions binding on all parties in the supply chain. Acton says collective agreements between sub-contractors and prime contractors will be approved if the majority of drivers covered will be better off compared to a remuneration order.

From January next year the tribunal, which is made up of a combination of Fair Work Australia and industry representatives, will be able to hear disputes about pay rates and conditions. Its functions are designed to improve road safety by addressing remuneration practices that encourage unsafe driving.

"The success of the tribunal, however, will in large part be dependent on the quality of the contribution of those interested in safety in the road transport industry make to its operation," Acton says.

"To that end, the tribunal intends to actively consult and engage with those interested in pursuing safety in the industry. The recent call for contributions to our annual work program is just the start of the process."

Acton earlier this month announced the tribunal was developing a program to guide its work in the year ahead. The industry has been asked to provide suggestions on what areas the tribunal should look at. Submissions must reach the tribunal by 4pm on October 2.

Acton says a remuneration order will take precedence over conditions in awards and enterprise agreements but that the tribunal must try to avoid overlaps with occupational health and safety laws.

"However, a road safety remuneration order, an approved road transport collective agreement and arbitrated order will prevail over state or territory laws to the extent of any inconsistency," she says.

The tribunal’s dispute resolution role will cover pay rates and conditions for drivers and owner-drivers, while drivers and owner-drivers who believe they lost jobs for refusing to work in an unsafe manner can also have their cases heard.

Employers will be able to take customers to the tribunal if they believe the rates offered prevent them from paying their drivers enough to work safely.

"The tribunal may deal with a dispute by any means it considers appropriate, including mediation or conciliation, giving a recommendation or opinion or, if the parties agree, by arbitration," Acton says.

During her speech, Acton touched on the high rate of fatalities and serious injuries in the transport industry.

She says there were 212 deaths from 184 crashes involving heavy rigid and articulated trucks in 2011, while the number of compensation claims for the transport and storage sector in 2009-10 was nearly double the national rate.

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