ARTIO NSW and NatRoad go head to head

By: Anjali Behl


Brushing off ARTIO NSW remark, Clark says NatRoad has the right to present its case to the Commission

ARTIO NSW and NatRoad go head to head
NatRoad CEO Warren Clark says setting blanket rates will create confusion within the industry.

 

NatRoad says it will continue to back its exemption application to have its members officially excluded from existing and subsequent changes to the provisions of the NSW General Carriers Contract Determination (GCCD) despite industry criticism.

The Australian Road Transport Industrial Organisation (ARTIO’s) NSW branch has been repeatedly arguing against the validity of NatRoad's application, which has received opposition from various corners of the industry.

Having submitted evidence to the NSW Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) to back its claim against NatRoad’s approach, ARTIO NSW went on to raise doubts whether "unregistered" organisations such as NatRoad have the right to be heard by the Commission in the first place.

"Parties, including ARTIO NSW and NatRoad put their positions to the Commission on 2 September on the issue of whether NatRoad has standing to bring such an application given they are an unregistered organisation and as such have no right to be heard by the Commission in their own right," ARTIO NSW secretary Hugh McMaster says.

"ARTIO NSW said the Act [Fair Work Act 2009] confers no such right on NatRoad because an unregistered organisation has no standing in proceedings before the Commission."

Confirming its stand on the issue, NatRoad says it has the right to present its case to the Commission despite opposing forces from within the industry blocking its way while it continues to pursue formal registration.

CEO Warren Clark says NatRoad and its forerunning organisation have a long history of standing up for unfair industrial changes to help its member understand "confusing" issues.

"NatRoad will always stand up for members, particularly on matters that impact the viability of their business.

"For nearly 70 years, NatRoad and our forerunning organisations have been standing up for members to tackle confusing and unfair industrial changes – including the Federal Court of Australia challenge on the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal earlier this year.

"As a credible and recognised industrial association with a long history of tackling industrial matters for members, NatRoad has a right to present a case and undertake proceedings with the NSW Industrial Commission.

"It is clear that unions and other organisations with a range of backing interest don’t want NatRoad at the table representing members – members who are employers, small trucking business operators and owner drivers."

ARTIO NSW is not pleased with NatRoad’s rationale.

McMaster says, "to give standing in the Commission to an organisation other than a registered organisation would create pandemonium in the NSW industrial relations system because any two industry participants could form an unregistered organisation and, as NatRoad seeks, have such standing.

"Commissioner Murphy in the Commission has reserved his decision.

"Until a decision is made on the issue of whether or not NatRoad has standing before the Commission, its application for exemption on behalf of its members from the provisions of the Determination cannot be heard."

However, NatRoad says it will continue to attend hearings and seek an exemption for its members from GCCD changes.

"NatRoad will continue to attend hearings at the NSW Industrial Relations Commissions while pursuing formal registration," Clark says.

He says NatRoad members include employers, subcontractors and owner drivers "who are all impacted by the confusing industrial changes that extend the General Carriers Interim Contract Determination (GCCD) from Sydney to the whole of NSW and will shortly set increased rates for operators. 

"Setting blanket rates for the trucking industry is good for a few yet causes disruption and confusion for nearly everyone.

"Owner drivers and small trucking business want the ability to negotiate and set their own work arrangements like any small business.

"Let’s be clear, this is not just a NSW issue, these industrial changes are causing confusion for trucking operators who operate, deliver to or traverse NSW – which is nearly 80 per cent of all freight activity in Australia.

"It is unfair that these industrial changes now extend to the whole of NSW, not just Sydney as they have done for 30 years.

"If widespread changes like this happened to planning or environmental regulations there would be economic and environmental impact studies to underpin the change, as well as public information campaign to help industry and interest groups adjust.

"Transport employers, employees and subcontractors don’t get the benefit of an assessment on how a widespread industrial change will impact the industry overnight, nor do they receive clear information about confusing industrial changes in a way that helps them adjust their business practices.

"Change like this, undertaken in this way, that impacts a whole state leads to confusion and fear within the trucking industry.

Clark says the industrial changes in NSW add another level of red tape and confusion within an industry that already has adequate Commonwealth protections for smaller operators and contracted carriers through the Fair Work Act 2009 and the Independent Contractors Act 2006.

Clark says NatRoad is currently seeking to:

  • Get an exemption for its members from GCCD rules
  • Support fairness and competition for trucking businesses by challenging new rate obligations
  • Alleviate confusion by having the application of GCCD returned to the Sydney metropolitan area (as opposed to state-wide application as approved by the Commission recently)
  • Become a registered organisation with the NSW Industrial Relations Commission.

The IRC is currently accepting feedback from all relevant stakeholders in the ongoing debate over GCCD changes.

While hearings to determine new rates begin from September 12, the Commission will deliver its decision on NatRoad’s exemption application at a later date.

 

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