Truck convoy to hit the road to protest minimum rates

By: Brad Gardner

Queensland truck drivers stage convoy to fight the introduction of minimum rates for owner-drivers.


Truck drivers in Queensland will gather this weekend as part of a convoy to protest the introduction of minimum pay rates for owner-drivers.

Kylie Robinson from the Trucking Support Agency of Australia is organising for the convoy, which will begin at 11am on March 20.

Drivers are due to meet at Berrinba Wetlands at Browns Plains before embarking on the convoy north-west to the BP service station at Archerfield at 12.30pm.

Robinson says the convoy aims to unite the trucking industry against the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal’s (RSRT) decision to impose minimum rates on owner-drivers and to increase public awareness of the issue.

She says the RSRT should pass a ruling covering the entire trucking industry if it wants to set minimum rates.

"They’re being very discriminatory towards the owner-drivers. Why would they do that? The only reason they are doing that is because they want the bigger corporations, and that means these guys [owner-drivers] can’t compete whatsoever," Robinson says.

Critics of the RSRT’s plan claim owner-drivers will be priced out of the market once the scheme begins on April 4 because the payments are much higher than existing market rates.

Owner-drivers will need to be paid the RSRT-mandated hourly and kilometre payments, but large transport companies will be free to offer lower rates to win work if they want to.  

"I think it has got to be a national rate across the country for each different sector but you shouldn’t have one company being able to charge that price and one company being able to charge something else. It should all be just one flat rate," Robinson says.

"It should be the whole industry. Toll should have to charge the same freight rate. Why shouldn’t they?"

Industry groups such as NatRoad, the Australian Industry Group (Ai Group), the Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association and the National Road Freighters Association are trying to delay the introduction of minimum rates.

The RSRT this week announced it would rule on applications to vary the start date from April 4 this year to January 1, 2017. It will also rule on whether to introduce the new rates gradually over a 36-month period, which the Ai Group has recommended.

Some lobby groups also want the Federal Government to get involved, but it says it has no power to influence the tribunal or its decisions.


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