Union and industry discuss RSRO at Ballarat meeting


Senator John Madigan hosts meeting to examine the effects of the new rules on small business operators

Union and industry discuss RSRO at Ballarat meeting
Senator John Madigan speaking at the meeting.

 

Close to 200 people attended a public meeting at the Warrenheip Memorial Hall near Ballarat on Saturday to discuss the effect of the Contractor Driver Minimum Payments Road Safety Remuneration Order 2016 (RSRO) on the livelihoods of many owner-drivers.

The meeting was hosted by independent senator John Madigan and chaired by the Livestock and Rural Transporters Association of Victoria, with representatives from the Transport Workers Union (TWU) and other industry bodies.

Madigan says he supports a stay on RSRO to allow for further discussions that could lead to a "proper and just solution" to the issue.

"There is a lack of legal clarity for all parties involved and we are attempting to get to the bottom of it.

"I acknowledge the anxiety of all people involved, and I acknowledge that their genuine concerns need to be addressed immediately.

"I am going to try and do this in a considerate and factual manner."

Madigan says he would be in touch with all his fellow crossbench senators to inform them of Saturday’s discussion.

"We need to do something immediately because there are people suffering, families suffering, who have mortgages to pay and payments to make," he adds.

"I don’t want to see anyone lose their home, or their marriage, or their kids.

"I will be telling the crossbench senators that we cannot let this go on."

ATA chair Noelene Watson, who was also at the meeting, says the gathering reflected how fast the effects of the Order were hitting small operators.

"We've heard a lot very sad stories about owner-drivers who have had their contracts cancelled and were given notice by their customers as a direct result of the order," Watson says.

"Companies are announcing that they are buying their own trucks, because it's just not viable to use subcontractors any more.  

"One owner-operator said he had mortgaged his house to purchase a new rig - with no more work coming in, he's now looking at selling his truck at a tremendous loss.

"These drivers have nowhere to go. They're suffering, their families are suffering, and the pressure is immense.

"This Order, which was meant to improve safety, is instead directly causing immense hardship for tens of thousands of owner-drivers across Australia.

"This is a matter of fundamental industry viability, and people's welfare and livelihoods."

Watson said the ATA will continue to lobby for the repeal of the Act and the abolish tribunal in the next sitting of the parliament.

 

 

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