‘Uncertainty and anxiety’ plagues minimum rates for owner-drivers

By: Steve Skinner, Photography by: Brad Gardner

Lots of questions yet to be answered but the process needs to be respected, industrial relations group says.

‘Uncertainty and anxiety’ plagues minimum rates for owner-drivers
ARTIO's Hugh McMaster says the trucking industry is "facing massive change" with the introduction of minimum rates for owner-drivers.


The very existence of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT) might still be debated, but it has to be taken seriously by all parties.

That’s the attitude of the body that represents trucking employers and hirers in front of the RSRT.

The Australian Road Transport Industrial Organisation (ARTIO) held an industry breakfast with tribunal president Jennifer Acton as keynote speaker on February 9.

The RSRT delivered an order on minimum rates for supermarket distribution and long distance subbies just before Christmas.

Acton disappointed the audience by saying it would compromise her role if she answered questions of detail on the order. She advised people with concerns to contact the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO), industry organisations or to seek legal advice.

The breakfast was organised by ARTIO New South Wales secretary/treasurer Hugh McMaster.

He compares the RSRT order with the introduction of the GST, decimal currency and even the formation of the conciliation and arbitration commission in the early 1900s.

"None of us have answers to a lot of questions. We are facing massive change and we don’t know what it means, so it’s understandable there’s uncertainty and anxiety," he says.

"We are dealing with something that is black letter, but there are so many shades of grey.

"I think everybody has to realise as well that whatever part of the market they’re in, their competitors are facing the same issues."

Perhaps surprisingly, the ARTIO doesn’t seem to regard the Transport Workers Union (TWU) as the mortal enemy in front of the tribunal.

McMaster says it’s better to try and reach agreement with the union if possible, rather than leaving things for the tribunal to decide.

He says there is "a fair bit of common ground" with the union in the recent order, for example "a lot of the elements of the cost model we agreed on".

In fact a representative from the TWU as well as Linfox will be the keynote speakers at another ARTIO safe rates breakfast next month.

ARTIO hasn’t got a user-friendly guide on the order yet. Neither could any guides be found on the websites of the RSRT itself, the FWO, Natroad, the Australian Trucking Association or the TWU.

However, the Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association has a guide on its website.

You can read the full feature in the March issue of Owner//Driver magazine.

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