TWU pushes floor price and training levy

Union argues for extra conditions to be slotted into proposed road safety remuneration order

TWU pushes floor price and training levy
TWU pushes floor price and training levy
By Brad Gardner | August 5, 2013

The Transport Workers Union (TWU) is clinging to its push for greater obligations to be imposed on the supply chain and for a floor price on rates to be set for owner-drivers.

The union’s written response to the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal’s (RSRT) draft order stipulating terms and conditions throughout the transport industry claims not enough is being proposed to hold the supply chain accountable.

Similar to its submission to the tribunal earlier this year, the TWU again argues for consignors and consignees to pay a levy into a fund to be used to train truck drivers, and to be liable for making sure drivers receive adequate remuneration.

The TWU wants drivers who are paid by the kilometre to also receive an hourly rate outlined in the Road Transport and Distribution Award and for owner-drivers to at least receive a fixed rate.

"This approach sets a ‘floor’ of rates for owner drivers which cannot be undercut. At the same time owner drivers could of course negotiate above them," the TWU’s proposal states.

"The rates would reflect the variables that apply for different sectors or enterprises, and would also take into account the type of truck that is being driven."

The TWU has engaged consultancy firm TransEco to develop a formula for minimum rates for owner-drivers across various sectors. The union says a minimum rate means owner-drivers should receive full reimbursement for their labour, full cost recovery of their operations and a reasonable profit margin.

"Owner drivers and employee drivers both need a ‘floor’ or minimum rates. They must both be paid for all time worked but, without the full suite of supply chain obligations supporting this approach, none of this will work," the union writes.

Some of the obligations it wants lumped on the supply chain include making sure consignors and consignees are liable for ensuring the amount of money paid under a transport contract is enough so that truck drivers receive a legal rate of pay.

The TWU’s proposal goes on to argue that drivers should be legally allowed to recover entitlements from consignors or consignees if the driver is not paid for all work performed.

"It is imperative that major industry clients are made to ensure that the amounts that they pay for transportation contracts are sufficient to allow for safe driving, cover reasonable transport business expenses needed to meet the requirements of the contract," the proposal states.

"In cases where drivers are not being paid as they ought to be, relevant participants in the supply chain must be accountable for paying paid amounts."

Under the union’s proposal, transport clients will be restricted to using trucking companies that operate remuneration systems that do not provide drivers with an incentive to break the law to complete a job.

Furthermore, the TWU wants a condition on clients to take action if they know a safe driving plan is not being complied with, such as implementing measures to monitor compliance.

"The tribunal’s orders must drive right to the top of the chain where the basis of these conditions are set," TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon says.

"Ensuring safe rates in road transport is imperative for truck drivers and all road users. The tribunal’s first draft order is a step in the right direction but it must go further to tackle the heart of the problem."

The RSRT’s draft order does not include a training levy or minimum rates, with the latter issue due to be dealt with at a later date. However, Sheldon has warned the TWU will begin lobbying governments if greater protections for truck drivers are not introduced.

"Drivers must receive rates that allow them to operate their businesses without having to cut corners, without having to sacrifice truck maintenance and without having to drive for excessive hours," he says.

"That is what the tribunal was established to provide and we will push for legislative amendments under any government if the tribunal is not in a position to provide this."

The union’s submission wants time spent training and taking crib breaks to be counted as work. The RSRT has already included waiting time.

The TWU proposes the training levy on the basis that trucking operators struggle to find the money to cover the cost of putting their drivers through courses.

"The competitive pressures emanating from the top of the supply chain mean that operating margins are often thin, and training can be sacrificed in the interests of the business staying afloat," the TWU says.

"…the levy is an acknowledgement of the contributions that should be made by clients, weighted according to their industry usage."

The TWU wants the tribunal to determine the levy amount.

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