TWU wants minimum rates for owner-drivers to keep rising

By: Brad Gardner

TWU says it plans to push for higher payments once minimum rates begin.


Those who believe impending minimum rates for owner-drivers are already too high had better brace themselves: the Transport Workers Union (TWU) will be pressuring businesses to commit to even higher rates. 

TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon has told Owner//Driver the union is planning to build on the minimum rates the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT) set down in its Contractor Driver Minimum Payments Road Safety Remuneration Order, which is due to begin on April 4.

Minimum hourly and kilometre payments will need to be made to owner-drivers, along with payment for queuing, loading or unloading a truck, taking fatigue management rest breaks and completing work diary entries. 

"The rates under the [Road Safety Remuneration] Order are minimum rates researched by KPMG and set down by the tribunal based on what it takes an owner driver to do a job safely," Sheldon says.

"What we have in NSW under the [General Carriers] Contract Determination is actually higher and other states also have arrangements in place where rates are being paid above the order.

"Our members will be working to build on the minimum rates under the RSRO to achieve higher rates, as these examples in NSW and elsewhere have proved possible."

The General Carriers Contract Determination is similar in some parts to the RSRT’s order in that sets rates and cost-recovery mechanisms for owner-drivers. 

The TWU in NSW is currently in the process of seeking variations to the Determination, such as an increase to hourly and kilometre rates and changes to the method used to calculate cost recovery. 

Rates under the RSRT order are already due to rise annually by 2 per cent until at least 2020, the date when the order needs to be reviewed. 

Sheldon’s comments are unlikely to sit well with critics of minimum rates, who believe the payments are already significantly higher than what the market currently offers. 

NatRoad, which opposes the RSRT’s order and wants it delayed to January 1 next year, believes the minimum rates will be as much as 30 per cent higher than what is currently paid.

Furthermore, Toll recently announced it needed to determine if using owner-drivers would be "commercially feasible" come April 4.

"Toll is still analysing the impact of the order, but it seems likely to significantly increase the cost of engaging owner-drivers," a company spokesperson says.



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