TWU targets Pyne as RSRO decision is delayed again

Federal Court to decide tomorrow on the fate of the minimum rates order


The Federal Court in Brisbane has put a stay on the Contractor Driver Minimum Payments Road Safety Remuneration Order 2016 (RSRO) until 4.15pm Thursday, with decision on futrther delay to be handed down in a separate hearing at 2.15pm tomorrow.

Meanwhile, a group of truck drivers and members of the Transport Workers Union (TWU) gate crash a press conference and heckled Minister Christopher Pyne outside the Parliament building in Adelaide, where he argued in favour of government legislation to delay the start of the minimum rates order.

The minister says the Coalition Government will push through the legislation announced by Employment Minister Michaelia Cash to ensure the RSRO does not come into effect before January next year.

Pyne says the government was not ready to sit back and ignore the issue and would push for legislation as the Parliament resumes in the week commencing April 18.

The Union and other members of its group chanted slogans in an attempt to drown out the minister, who stood amid a group of owner drivers and small business operators and industry members in favour of the delay.

"It's a pity union is trying to shut down democratic discussions in Australia today," Pyne says.

The South Australian Road Transport Association (SARTA) executive director Steve Shearer, who was present at the conference, tells Owner//Driver that he and a few other attendees were strong-armed by a few members of the TWU group.

"It is old fashioned thuggery by the Union that wants to drown out all arguments against its claim.

"The Union and drivers are entitled to their views but they cannot be allowed to resort to such bullying tactics to suppress the voice of the other side.

"It [the Union] keeps misrepresenting facts to support its claim that minimum rates will bring about safety in the industry.

"Setting up minimum rates will not ensure road safety because it will have no effect on the attitude of drivers, some of whom are careless about maintenance and repair issues.

"The ones who don’t care about road safety will not suddenly become careful," Shearer says.

Referring to the independent inquiry reports on the Road Safety Remuneration System, Shearer says the union’s claims regarding road safety are "totally fallacious" and "inconsistent with what we know".

"The reports prove that minimum rates will not prevent road accidents."

During previous meetings between the South Australian Law Enforcement Liaison Group, of which SARTA is a member, the South Australian Police have said that there is a "small recalcitrant minority that believes that road safety is directly related to the rates order", Shearer says.

"The South Australian Police have said that this Order will in no way ensure road safety."

The government and industry members will have their sight focussed on certain independent senators including Nick Xenophon and Glen Lazarus, who originally agreed to the minimum rates order, Shearer says.

"A lot of politicians have been sucked into the Union rhetoric without complete knowledge or understanding of the matter.

"It will be interesting to see which way the independent senators go in this matter as it will explain whether they have truly come to understand the ramifications of this Order."

Drivers and Union rally in support of safe rates

The truck drivers and members of the union were holding a rally demanding the Federal Government to lift the temporary stay on the Order when the incident occurred today.

"Truck drivers are dying on the roads. Other road users are dying on the roads – there were 25 deaths in truck crashes in March alone," TWU SA/NT branch secretary Ray Wyatt says.

"Owner drivers are going out of business. But the Government insists on backing in its rich mates in big business and opposing this Order."

Wyatt says SARTA is "trying to scare drivers into opposing this Order by saying it will force them out of business but they represent the companies which will supposedly be sacking them.

"It’s scaremongering and nothing more. This Order will save lives on the roads and save owner drivers’ businesses."

According to the ABC, TWU assistant secretary Ian Smith reiterated the claims, suggesting money caused owner-drivers to break the law.

"Owner drivers ... in our industry contribute to number one speeding, number two skipping breaks, number three cutting on maintenance and the one that's the most scariest, is being forced to take illicit drugs just to keep the wheels turning, just so they can feed their family," he says.

On Friday, the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT) refused to delay the implementation of the rates order after considering submissions from both sides.

However, an eleventh-hour injunction by the government put a temporary stay on the Order.

"The government need to get out of the way of this independent Tribunal and let it do its work in tackling the crisis in our industry," Wyatt adds.



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