ARTIO takes issue with NUW involvement

ARTIO "surprised" by NUW involving itself in the debate on practices the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal should investigate

By Brad Gardner | October 15, 2012

An industrial relations group representing trucking operators has taken issue with the National Union of Workers (NUW) involving itself in the debate on practices the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal should investigate.

The tribunal is currently developing an annual work program, which will outline industry sectors and practices to be looked at to see if they are encouraging unsafe behaviours.

The NUW penned a submission earlier this month to the tribunal, asking it to look into insecure work practices, including the use of contractors. It argues third-party labour hire and contracting employment models are jeopardising safety standards.

But in a letter to the tribunal President Jennifer Acton, Australian Road Transport Industrial Organisation (ARTIO) Secretary Phil Lovel says legislation creating the tribunal states the focus is on promoting safety and fairness for truck drivers.

"It is unclear in ARTIO’s view as to how this could apply to the NUW or any of its members or potential members given that it does not have constitutional coverage of drivers in the road transport industry," Lovel writes.

"ARTIO is a little surprised by the fact that the NUW has made a submission to the Tribunal."

The NUW claims insecure work practices, from the use of contractors to casual employment, are prevalent in the transport industry.

It says the tribunal should look at the extent of insecure work practices and the impact, if any, they have on the driver safety.

"The use of contractors and labour hire casual workers undermines the traditional employer-employee contractual model and blurs the lines of responsibility for worker safety," the NUW says.

"The labour hire industry is volatile and unregulated, meaning that entry into the market is easy and competition is fierce. These market realities have an adverse impact on safety, industry standards and the maintenance of those standards."

The tribunal’s role is address pay and remuneration-related practices suspected of encouraging unsafe behaviour. It will be able to issue binding orders, including setting minimum rates of pay for employee drivers and sub-contractors.

Upon introducing legislation to create the tribunal, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanese highlighted unpaid waiting times as a concern. He says it creates an incentive for drivers to speed or break fatigue management laws to make up for lost time.

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