Butt out: TWU tells ATA not to get involved in minimum rates debate

By: Brad Gardner, Photography by: Brad Gardner

TWU says the ATA should be supporting faster payment terms instead.

Butt out: TWU tells ATA not to get involved in minimum rates debate
ATA CEO Chris Melham says the association has taken steps to achieve faster payment terms for transport operators.


A push within the ranks of the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) for the group to have a say on minimum rates has a hit a wall in the form the Transport Workers Union (TWU).

The union, which is a member of the ATA, believes the association should have no say on the matter and instead devote its time and energy to securing enforceable 30-day payment terms for transport operators.

ATA member the Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association (ALRTA) wants the ATA involved on minimum rates, and the group is due to vote on March 30 if it will take a position and demand the scheme be delayed.

The issue is a sensitive one for the ATA because it does not involve itself in industrial relations matters. The ALRTA considers minimum rates a safety issue, but the TWU thinks otherwise. 

"The ATA is not an organisation tasked to deal with industrial relations," the TWU says.

"What we have asked, however, is for the ATA to support the payment by clients to transport operators within 30 days. This is vital in order to stop the squeeze on the transport supply chain by major clients at the top so that transport work can be carried out fairly, safely and efficiently. Our request for support on this is part of the push to make the clients at the top accountable."

The ATA’s current position is that it does not get involved in minimum rates or any matters relating to the work of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT).

"The ATA council has agreed that the ATA should not involve itself in RSRT issues relating to employee remuneration or conditions. With the support of council, the ATA is able to make submissions or appear before the RSRT on other matters," ATA CEO Chris Melham says.

He adds that the ATA has already taken steps to encourage faster payment terms and has more plans in future to address the issue.

Melham says the association supports the non-binding motion Australia’s Senate passed calling for businesses to settle accounts within 30 days. 

"ATA government relations and policy manager Bill McKinley discussed payment terms when he gave evidence before the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee on August 14, 2015," Melham says.

"And the ATA website now includes a special section dedicated to trucking industry contracts."

Melham says the ATA is now developing a contract checklist to provide trucking operators with guidance on how to address problems in contracts, such as making sure they comply with the RSRT’s orders and Heavy Vehicle National Law requirements.

The checklist will also cover unfair terms, liability for losses, and payment terms.

The checklist is due to be a main feature of the ATA’s annual conference, Trucking Australia.

"The full version of the contract checklist will be available exclusively to members of ATA member associations and Trucking Australia 2016 delegates," Melham says.

The ATA is due to hold a meeting on March 30 to decide its stance toward the RSRT and minimum rates. 

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