Toll, Linfox 'reluctantly' opposed minimum rates for long-distance truck drivers

By: Brad Gardner

Both companies urged tribunal not to mandate hourly and kilometre rates for linehaul sector.

Toll, Linfox 'reluctantly' opposed minimum rates for long-distance truck drivers
Toll says it is "reluctantly" unable to support mandatory minimum rates for owner-drivers in the the long-distance sector.


Not even the combined might of Australia’s two largest trucking players could prevent mandatory minimum pay rates for owner-drivers in the long-distance sector being introduced.

Toll and Linfox penned a joint submission to the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT) late last year urging it not to set hourly and kilometre payments for linehaul drivers, saying the RSRT needed to "tread cautiously" before regulating the sector.

The tribunal subsequently announced fixed rates would begin on April 4 this year for contractor drivers (a driver classified as an independent contractor) working in the supermarket distribution sector – a move Toll and Linfox support – and long-distance operations (return journeys of more than 500km).

In their submission, Toll and Linfox argued setting rates for linehaul work would be difficult given the numerous types of vehicles used in the sector, the differing fuel burn rates due to the various types of freight transported, and the different amounts paid for trips between regional and capital cities.

"In the circumstances, Linfox and Toll are, reluctantly, presently unable [to] support the setting of specific minimum rates for contractor drivers engaged generally in long distance operations," the submission says.

"Instead, Linfox and Toll submit that there should be further consideration of this issue (particularly in the context of different industry sectors). Linfox and Toll are prepared to engage promptly as part of any such process."

Both companies did, however, express in-principle support for linehaul drivers receiving minimum rates.

The submission went on to recommend that if the RSRT set rates for linehaul operations then it should limit the coverage of the order to freight transported between major eastern seaboard state capital cities, with the inclusion of Adelaide.

…"this is because there is likely to be at least some degree of greater commonality in representative vehicles used for such freight tasks, and in the fuel consumption rates achieved for transport over such routes, than is the case across the long distance sector more generally," the submission says.

The RSRT did not implement the recommendation when handing down its ruling in December.

The tribunal’s decision means that from April 4 a significant number of owner-drivers will need to be paid for time spent queuing to load or unload, taking breaks in line with fatigue management requirements, refuelling a truck, filling out work diaries and more.

All parties in the supply chain are accountable for making sure rates in contracts are sufficient to ensure owner-drivers receive the minimum rate, which will vary based on the work being performed and the type truck and trailer being used.

The RSRT is due to publish an online calculator early this year to help companies determine the rates they need to pay.

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