Most submissions reject TWU variation plan
The reasons differ but the weight of opinion in documents was against the plan
The Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT) received 21 submissions on the Transport Workers Union (TWU) alternate ‘safe rates’ order implementation plan backed by Linfox and Toll and, partially, the Australian Industry Group (Ai Group).
In a joint submission, the parties, apart from the TWU, argue that plan, named ‘TWU1’ by the tribunal, would give affected parts of the industry enough time adjust to the contentious Road Safety Remuneration Order (RSRO).
The TWU says it believes those affected have had enough time to digest the implications, pointing to consultation on the order before and after it was made.
But it backs deferring the payment date and phasing in the new rates "to enhance the prospects of compliance with those rates and to minimise the potential for any dislocation that might occur by ensuring that supply chain participants have time to adjust".
The TWU argues evidence in the Easter hearings of the difficulty faced by some hirers in dealing with customers meant retaining the commencement date would ensure pressure remained on customers to comply with the aspect of the order that relates to their responsibilities.
Almost all individual owner-driver submissions rejected TWU1 on the details or because it arrived outside previously understood limits or because of its narrow provenance but some opposed it for interfering with the RSRO as it currently stands, which they support.
The National Independent Tucking Association (NatRoad) rejected TWU1 entirely, which put it at odds with ally the Ai Group’s position.
It’s submission, with MMV Transport and consistent with its arguments in the hearings, insists the plan is irrelevant to the tribunal’s deliberations as it should be influenced only by its own decision-making as set out in section 20 of the Road Safety Remuneration Act: section 32(3).
NatRoad argues TWU1 is not supported by many contractor drivers and fails to address the main issues at stake and was supplied outside the tribunal’s pre-hearings consultation directions, while accepting it would make consultation provisions in the Act.
The Livestock and Bulk Carriers Association (LBCA) opposed TWU1 for introducing "special exclusions" that, though welcome on the face of it, are opaque and unlikely to be accepted by the Tribunal.
LBCA president Lynley Miners also took the opportunity to criticise the tribunal’s focus and approach, saying: "Over and above the witnesses who appeared, there is a much broader industry which, to date, has effectively been disenfranchised by the inward looking focus of the Tribunal and the broader Industrial Relations milieu."
The LBCA submission continues: "Had the order simply been confined to full load interstate capital markets, for which is clearly constructed, then we would not have seen the need to participate in the Tribunal’s processes.
"But the overreach by the Transport Workers Union, Linfox and Toll in seeking to move beyond the areas they dominate with the assistance of the Tribunal into areas with which they have little familiarity has produced major dislocation."
She also took the tribunal to task over commercial sensitivities, saying that, "as was made clear by our advocate during the hearings, we believe that the human rights of our members and other small rural country businesses have been infringed with the failure by the Tribunal to take the initiative and positively advise witnesses about the steps that could be taken to keep commercial information confidential and the protections that they would have been well advised to take when invited to incriminate themselves.
"The witnesses who came before the Tribunal in many ways depended on the Tribunal to be advised of their rights."
The National Road Freighters Association said the RSRT deadline did not allow time for consultation with members on phasing in.
It was, however, amenable to a January 1 order implementation date, having previously sought and indefinite delay until order details were clearer.