RSRT told to move faster on setting rates for truck drivers

By: Brad Gardner

Office of federal senator bemoans lack of action from tribunal on setting pay rates for truck drivers.


The Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal’s (RSRT) approach to reforming pay rates in the trucking industry has come under criticism, with the office of federal senator Ricky Muir claiming it is not moving fast enough.

Muir’s advisor and Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party secretary, Keith Littler, has fired off a missive to the RSRT urging it to get cracking on setting minimum rates of pay.

The tribunal received a report in October on possible reforms after a number of consultations with industry representatives, but it is yet to release a draft outlining its proposals.

"It is time to set, without argument, rates for road transport which allow small business owners to meet their financial obligations, rates which allow operators to service and maintain their vehicles, rates which allow drivers to have ample rest breaks without fear of penalty, and most importantly, rates which will help reduce the loss of Australian lives," Littler writes.

"This is not about greed or profit, it is about sustainability and the safety of an entire industry, and indeed, the nation."

Littler claims existing rates are inadequate to the point where small businesses are going broke, drivers have to work excessive hours and regular maintenance on vehicles is unaffordable.

In his written submission, Littler criticises opponents of remuneration reform and those requesting exemptions for particular types of vehicles and freight.

"It is not rocket-science to understand that, regardless of whether a vehicle is carrying a load of refrigerated vegetables to the market, a load of grain from farm to silo, or a load of bricks to a building site, the cost of operating those vehicles is the same (with the exception of prime-equipment costs)," he says.

"These vehicles use the same amounts of fuel for kilometres travelled, the same vehicle registration costs annually, the same (or very similar) hourly rates of payment for the driver; yet we see arguments for the exclusion of rates for tippers, for bricks, for concrete for livestock…"

Littler’s submission comes two months after Muir announced his support for the RSRT, which prime minister Tony Abbott’s government does not support.

Muir says keeping the RSRT and setting pay rates for truck drivers will improve road safety.

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