Full cost recovery heads list of ARTIO's and Black's concerns

Industry group and owner-driver representative demand payment for all work performed and for cost model to set acceptable rate

Full cost recovery heads list of ARTIO's and Black's concerns
Full cost recovery heads list of ARTIO's and Black's concerns
By Brad Gardner | March 19, 2013

The government body charged with ensuring truck operators and drivers receive sustainable rates is being urged to require the supply chain to fork out for waiting time and time spent loading and unloading freight.

Submissions from the Australian Road Transport Industrial Organisation (ARTIO) and owner-driver representative Frank Black lodged with the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT) want a ruling guaranteeing payment to sub-contractors for all work performed.

Specifically, Black wants the RSRT to issue an order requiring parties to pay contractors according to a trip rate and then factor in a period of two hours each for loading and unloading time.

Black and the ARTIO have also sought changes to the running of timeslots, with Black saying drivers who miss their allotted time can incur penalties and be forced to wait for as much as a day to be given another slot.

Black says the setting of timeslots should be flexible and that no penalty should be imposed if drivers turn up late. His submission says rescheduling of timeslots must not exceed two hours from the time a driver turns up to a facility.

The ARTIO, which wants its proposal to apply to the linehaul sector, says timeslots should be set so that drivers are not encouraged to speed or forego required rest breaks to meet the deadline.

"Operators of facilities where time slot booking systems are used…must develop protocols for booking systems in collaboration with industry representatives," the ARTIO submission says.

"The Contract for Services must provide for payment for all work performed including loading and unloading, and waiting time."

The ARTIO and Black both argue in favour of the development of a cost model so parties can set their own rate.

Black says it must provide for full cost recovery and be updated every three months. The ARTIO says rates should be set by an identifiable methodology, as opposed to being fixed, to take into account the variables that exist in the industry.

It wants the RSRT to make sure any cost model approved pays contractors enough to allow them to operate safely and considers the age of the vehicle being used, the level of capital investment in the vehicle and the cost of complying with road transport laws.

While it does not say so in its proposed orders, the TWU has told ATN in a statement that it, too, supports the development of a cost model. The union says a cost model for owner-drivers should set rates that include "appropriate margins, payment for all time worked and recovery of all costs incurred".

"What is most critical is that together we begin to lift the pressures placed on the industry by the big bosses of transport supply chains," TWU Assistant National Secretary Michael Kaine says in a statement.

In his submission, Black laments the level of existing pay rates as insufficient to meet running costs. He says owner-drivers are offered work on a take-it-or-leave-it basis with little ability to negotiate terms.

"Poor rates do cause family pressures, impacting on a driver’s performance on the road," he writes.

"Poor rates do cause stress in a driver concerned about meeting his or her financial obligations, which will also impact on his or her concentration on the road."

Under Black’s proposal, customers will need to settle accounts within 30 days of receiving an invoice. He says customers can currently take up to 90 days to pay invoices, causing operators to delay vehicle maintenance.

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