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Industry must have say on tribunal members: Ai Group

Ai Group says industry must be consulted on the makeup of the tribunal that will set pay rates for truckies

By Brad Gardner | March 22, 2012

One of the big-name lobby groups that fought against the creation of a tribunal to set pay rates for truck drivers says industry must be consulted on the makeup of the new body.

The Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal will open its doors on July 1 to begin investigating sectors, practices and issues in the transport industry to determine if remuneration encourages unsafe practices.

Legislation to create the tribunal passed this week, and Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) CEO Heather Ridout says members of the tribunal must have strong experience in road transport and industries that use it.

“For the Road Safety Remuneration Act, the government needs to consult with representatives of the road transport industry and representatives of the industries which use road transport on the appointment of Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal members,” Ridout says.

Under the government’s reform, the tribunal will be made up of at least three members of Fair Work Australia and a maximum of three people with experience in transport and logistics, truck driving, business or workplace health and safety.

“It is essential that the government work with the Australian Industry Group and other key representative bodies to ensure that the new arrangements are workable and not damaging to industry,” Ridout says.

During a parliamentary committee hearing earlier this year, the Ai Group denied there was a link between rates of pay and safety.

It argued against the introduction of the tribunal, saying governments needed to focus on enforcing existing regulations and providing greater education.

The Ai Group’s submission lodged with the committee stated existing wage arrangements for employee drivers were effective.

The tribunal’s scope will cover employees and owner-drivers, with both groups able to use the body to settle disputes over pay rates with their employers.

A regulatory impact statement commissioned by the Federal Government revealed 29 percent of owner-drivers were being paid less than the minimum wage.

While saying there is not a conclusive link between rates and safety, the document says the tribunal can reduce heavy vehicle crashes by 25 percent if it covers 60 percent of the owner-driver sector and achieves a 90 percent compliance rate.

It says it is reasonable to suggest the tribunal will lead to higher pay for owner-drivers and may reduce incentives to speed, take drugs, work fatigued, overload vehicles and forego truck maintenance.

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