Shearer and Sheldon slug it out

TWU and SARTA bosses taken to task over payment periods and safe rates strategy

Shearer and Sheldon slug it out
Steve Shearer in the midst of a TWU protest in Adelaide


Steve Shearer has tackled Transport Workers Union (TWU) national secretary Tony Sheldon on his 30-day payments and safe rates strategy, saying his approach has been responsible for the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal’s (RSRT’s) failure.

But the union gave as good as it got, labelling Shearer’s attack "hysterical" and "ludicrous".

The South Australian Road Transport Association (SARTA) executive director described Sheldon’s statement that the is "less than impressed with Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) Kate Carnell’s expression of support for a mandatory 30-day payment approach for the transport sector" as being "disingenuous and manipulative, again".

"This just proves yet again that Tony Sheldon still cares less, if anything at all, about the truth than he does about doing whatever it takes, including continuing to mislead his members and others, to prop up his false arguments for Minimum Rates," Shearer says.

"Tony Sheldon, nobody else, is responsible for the destruction of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal because he and he alone sought to bully his way through a trumped-up Tribunal that any sensible and fair-minded person could see was farcical in its treatment of the facts and industry, not to mention the law and fair process. 

"Tony Sheldon knows, but won’t dare admit, that his arguments and tactics are what destroyed the RSRT by galvanising the trucking industry and operators of all sizes, including tens of thousands of owner drivers whom he was happy to throw onto the scrap heap, in a way that has not been seen for many decades. 

"Tony Sheldon knows that the opposition to the RSRT was not about the 30-day payment requirement but about the disastrous rates that he tried to shove down the Industry's throats, aided and abetted by his odd bed fellows, the two big boys of the industry.

"Tony also knows that the Industry, including SARTA, NatRoad, the ALRTA and the ATA and other key opponents of the RSRT, have fully supported the 30-day payment requirement from day one and that we have all continued to push for a 30-day cycle regime since the RSRT was abolished as it had to be. 

"Tony Sheldon knows that we have all worked with . . . Carnell and pushed the 30 day payment requirement. If he doesn't then he hasn't listened to his goons who attended and disrupted the sessions with Kate, including in Adelaide. 

"So here is Tony, again, perpetuating his manipulative approach peddling the very ‘lies and deception’ that he accused the industry of in an industry article last month. 

"It’s in Tony's personal interest to keep telling his followers that he is their champion and he is holding everyone to account when in fact he and he alone wrought the destruction upon the RSRT."

Shearer also questions the union’s membership of the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) against a backdrop of a significant falling out following the ATA’s support of the RSRT’s abolition. 

"Tony Sheldon and his union are still failing to even try to work with the industry on resolving the genuine safety and contractual issues," he says.

"Their membership of the ATA has been used by them as nothing more than a cynical means of blocking progress by the ATA on certain issues and they have failed to attend almost all of the ATA Council meetings over the past three years and the TWU has therefore failed utterly to engage with the industry on real safety issues. 

"It’s time that Tony Sheldon woke up to himself or that the union moves on and returns to a sensible and co-operative approach through which his far-more-effective predecessor, John Allan, made enormous progress with the industry on real safety issues. 

"Tony Sheldon's bully boy approach is as outdated as the dinosaurs."

The TWU would have none of it.

"Of course, we don’t expect consistency from Mr Shearer," a spokesperson says.

"After all, his organisation explicitly recognised the argument behind the TWU’s Safe Rates campaign – linking pay and safety – as recently as September 2014 where Mr Shearer said: ‘SARTA agrees that inadequate rates if accepted by an operator can lead to safety issues due to corner cutting in various ways.’

 "The so-called ‘goons’ Mr Shearer has criticised for attending Ombudsman hearings are genuine owner-drivers such as Roy Ballantyne from Adelaide, who was refused his request to hear evidence.

"Ray says: ‘I got safe rates for just two weeks and it was my first rate increase in decades. Now I'm back to struggling on tight margins. I’m annoyed that anyone representing small businesses would oppose fair safe rates. The Ombudsman closed me down from giving evidence on safe rates but then let employers of owner drivers have a free hand.’

"The Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal was an independent body designed to address remuneration-related safety issues in trucking.

"It was composed of government, industry and academic members who after two years of consultation, including with owner drivers and industry organisations like SARTA, put in place the minimum rates order to improve conditions for small trucking businesses.

"Perhaps Mr Shearer should rest the rhetoric and support sustainable, safe rates, as well as a maximum of 30 day payments for owner drivers and companies whilst holding clients accountable.

"The trucking industry is fighting for safety and fairness – in contrast Mr Shearer's trademark is to rant and rave."

You can also follow our updates by liking us on Facebook


Trucks For Hire | Forklifts For Hire | Cranes For Hire | Generators For Hire | Transportable Buildings For Hire