Black targets retailers as submission deadline looms

Owner-driver representative wants remuneration tribunal to home in on retailers and unpaid waiting times

By Brad Gardner | October 2, 2012

An owner-driver representative wants the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal to hone in on the retail sector and clients failing to pay drivers for waiting time.

Frank Black, who represents owner-drivers on the Australian Trucking Association’s (ATA) general council, says the tribunal’s "first and most important priority" must be looking into the practices of clients "such as the retail supply chain".

Black made the comments in a written submission to the tribunal, which is currently seeking feedback from industry on what areas it should target.

Black says underpaid owner-drivers and employee drivers are forced to exceed their allowable work hours and forego vehicle maintenance.

"Consequently these practices contribute greatly to our safety and the safety of other road users, and unfortunately often end in tragic circumstances such as death or serious injuries," he writes.

Black says remuneration also influences the industry’s ability to attract, train and retain good drivers.

He says conversations he has had with truck drivers throughout the years also point to the lack of suitable rest areas and driver facilities as burning issues.

The industry has until 4pm today to lodge its proposals on areas the tribunal should focus on.

The tribunal will use the submissions to guide the development of its annual work program, which will chart the body’s focus for 2013.

Black’s submission echoes the sentiments of Professor Michael Quinlan, who wrote to the tribunal recommending it focus on supermarkets.

Quinlan says the dominance of a small number of supermarkets means even large transport operators have limited ability to negotiate rates and conditions.

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