Union wants parcel and courier delivery sector on tribunal’s agenda

By: Brad Gardner

TWU asks RSRT to address "serious and dangerous exploitation" in the courier and parcel delivery industry.

Union wants parcel and courier delivery sector on tribunal’s agenda
The TWU claims courier and parcel delivery drivers are being forced to speed and skip breaks to meet unrealistic delivery schedules.


The Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal’s (RSRT) already packed agenda may soon get busier, with the Transport Workers Union (TWU) asking it to address failings within the courier and parcel delivery sector.

The TWU has responded to the RSRT’s request for submissions on what it should focus on in 2016 as part of its fourth annual work program, and the union is adamant urgent action is needed to address the "serious and dangerous exploitation" of courier and delivery drivers. 

It also wants a broad-ranging review of best practice compliance practices in the trucking industry.

The RSRT is currently engaged on a number of fronts, including setting minimum pay rates for owner-drivers involved in retail and long-distance work, and completing inquiries into the cash-in-transit, oil, fuel and gas, waste management, and ports and wharf sectors.

"The work schedule of the Tribunal is already substantial; the TWU submits that the work already underway should be the focus of the fourth annual work program," the union’s submission states.

"However, if the Tribunal is of the mind to augment that schedule, the fourth annual work program provides an opportunity to deal with the hyper-competitive downward spiral of standards in the courier and parcel delivery sector and take a snapshot of compliance strategies in the industry with a view to making recommendations about best practice."

The TWU’s submission claims the courier and parcel delivery sector is beset by unfair contracting practices in relation to owner-drivers, and pressures on drivers to speed and skip breaks to meet unrealistic delivery schedules.

As part of its request for an inquiry into the sector, the TWU wants the tribunal to look at claims Australia Post contractors are being paid $1.50 per parcel.

"After covering fuel, running costs, van repayments, tax and insurance many drivers are lucky to come out with $300-$400 a week," TWU assistant national secretary Michael Kaine says.

"Starting work at 4am and working long hours means the pressure is intense. This is leading to safety issues and is putting drivers and the public at risk. It is a sector the tribunal must urgently investigate."

Specifically, the submission wants the RSRT to look at the abuse of franchising models, delivery and cost pressures, and the lack of minimum rates and conditions for owner-driver couriers.

The TWU says unsustainable remuneration practices, such as piece rates, deny owner-driver couriers a safety net.

The submission adds that an inquiry into best practice measures is needed to address non-compliance with key industry initiatives, such as the RSRT’s requirement for owner-drivers to be paid within 30 days of completing work.

"The Tribunal’s powers in relation to inquiries are broad and would readily encompass this subject matter," the TWU’s submission states.

"The focus of such inquiry would be to assess current enforcement strategies and regimes in road transport and then make recommendations regarding "best practice"."

The TWU claims existing enforcement and compliance practices suffer from inadequate resources and funding, a lack of coordination between jurisdictions and a culture of competition as opposed to cooperation between some agencies.

The RSRT issued a call in late September for submissions on its fourth annual work program.

The tribunal is required to develop a work program for the year ahead on the sectors and issues that it believes warrant investigation.

Following its investigations, the tribunal has the power to impose terms and condition on specific sectors or the industry as a whole to improve safety.


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