TWU and NRFA in joint fight for sustainable industry

Transport Workers Union and National Road Freighters Association sign memorandum of understanding

TWU and NRFA in joint fight for sustainable industry
NRFA Queensland delegate Trevor Warner with TWU national secretary Michael Kaine


The Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) has entered into an agreement with owner-driver and small fleet operator body the National Road Freighters Association (NRFA) "to fight for an industry that is safe and sustainable".

The memorandum of understanding (MOU) will allow both organisations to work together on issues of interest but they will remain independent, continuing to represent the interests of their members and raise issues particularly pertinent to their membership.

The MOU has as its core principles:

1.     Universal application of binding, enforceable and safe and sustainable rates 

2.     Independent tribunal to determine and enforce binding standards in conjunction with industry stakeholders 

3.     Client accountability throughout transport supply chains 

4.     Transport workers and transport operators given opportunity to contribute to a collective voice 

5.     Enforcement mechanisms to ensure standards are effectively realised 

6.     Adequate training and education through an industry scheme and fund. 

The MOU recognises that "economic and contractual practices are placing unsustainable pressures on transport operators and workers and contributing to thousands of transport operators going bankrupt not to mention the injuries and deaths of thousands of transport workers and users every year". 

"The Australian Government and existing regulatory models have failed to respond to this crisis and the need for regulatory intervention has never been stronger," it adds. 

The TWU and the NRFA previously formed a unified position on the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) veiled jail threat to owner-driver Frank Black after his opinion piece in Owner//Driver on low rates.

TWU and NRFA unite against ACCC attack on Frank Black

"Both organisations wrote a joint letter to the ACCC outlining the problems with low rates and requesting a response on the regulator’s over-reach," the TWU statement reads.

"The ACCC has failed to provide an adequate response to questions."

TWU national secretary Michael Kaine and NRFA president Gordon MacKinlay say the agreement to co-operate was based on a lack of action on the difficulties drivers and operators face in obtaining fair rates to keep them safe and their businesses sustainable.

"For far too long, our industry has had to endure a dog-eat-dog way of doing business where the all the pressure of compliance is pushed right down to the driver, subcontractor and operator at the bottom and most of the profit goes to the major retailers and manufacturers at the top which contract out transport work at continually lower rates," Kaine says.

"This is neither safe nor sustainable and the TWU is happy to join forces with the NRFA to change this."

MacKinlay adds: "Transport businesses want to be paid what we are worth, not what people feel like paying us.

"The financial pressure on our trucking companies is real and is making it very difficult for businesses to survive in a safe and long-term way.

"We want to see change and we want standards to be lifted.

"Working with the TWU means co-operating on issues that matter to us and using our collective voices to tell those in positions of power that now is the time for reform."

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