ATA may get involved on minimum rates

By: Brad Gardner, Photography by: Brad Gardner

Meeting scheduled to determine if ATA will ask for minimum rates to be delayed.

ATA may get involved on minimum rates
ALRTA executive director Mathew Munro says the ATA needs to get involved on minimum rates for owner-drivers.


The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) will this month decide if it should enter the fight on minimum rates for owner-drivers, but any involvement from the group may come too late to delay the scheme.

A notice sent to ATA members and obtained by Owner//Driver has called for a special meeting of the group’s council at 11am AEDT on March 30.

That meeting will rule on a submission to request a minimum six-month delay to the Contractor Driver Minimum Payments Road Safety Remuneration Order, which sets hourly and kilometre rates for owner-drivers involved in linehaul and supermarket distribution operations.

However, the meeting may come after the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT) makes a decision on whether the order should take effect as intended on April 4 or be pushed back to January 1 next year.

It earlier this week ruled it may hold hearings between March 26 and 28 on variations to the implementation date.

The ATA notice states that members will vote on four motions, with the first one being: "That the ATA write to the RSRT requesting a minimum six-month delay in the commencement of the 2016 RSRO."

The second motion is: "That the ATA request that the RSRT and/or the Fair Work Ombudsman clarify key elements of the 2016 RSRO and issue unequivocal advice to industry during the first three-months of the delay period."

ATA members will also vote on whether the group sends letters to federal politicians informing them of their reasons to support a delay, and issuing a public statement outlining its reasons.

The ATA's membership includes the Transport Workers Union (TWU), which wants minimum rates to begin on April 4.

The ATA has to date refused to take a position on minimum rates on the basis it falls under industrial relations, which the ATA does not get involved in.

But the Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association (ALRTA) believes minimum rates are a safety-related matter. The group has been a driving force behind trying to get the ATA involved.  

"The reason we want the ATA involved is because we believe that the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal is not an industrial instrument per se," ALRTA executive director Mathew Munro says.

"It is constituted under industrial law but really it is wholly concerned with safety and business-to-business transactions and we think those really are ATA core interests."

Munro has raised concerns the RSRT’s plan may actually have the reverse effect of what it is trying to achieve, namely safer roads and a viable owner-driver sector.

Like other groups, the ALRTA believes the minimum rates scheme will price owner-drivers out of the market.

"Fundamentally, if the tribunal believes there is a link between pay and safety and that by increasing the remuneration of owner-drivers that will lead to safer outcomes then they must also accept that any action that they take that would reduce the income of owner-drivers – and we’ve got plenty of evidence to show the order will do just that – then they also need to accept that will lead to less safe outcomes for those operators," Munro says.

The ALRTA was one of a number of groups to appear before the RSRT this week to seek a delay to minimum rates. It says the industry has not been given enough information and time to comply with the order.

Munro says it is essential the industry be given the opportunity to address problems with the minimum rates scheme to make sure it is fair and applied reasonably.

He also has a message for the ATA council when it meets on March 30.

"I think the council needs to begin forming a view about what the actual impact of this is going to be and whether or not it will improve safety."

Owner//Driver has sought comment from the ATA but has not yet received a response.


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