Owner-driver threatening strike rejects government offer to negotiate

By: Jason Whittaker

A Queensland-based owner-driver threatening to shut down the trucking industry through a nation-wide strike has refused a government proposal to

A Queensland-based owner-driver threatening to shut down the trucking industry through a nation-wide strike has refused a government proposal to come to the negotiating table.

The office of Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Anthony Albanese phoned strike organiser Mick Pattel and offered to sit down to discuss his grievances, which includes 15 demands governments must acquiesce to before the shutdown ends.

Part of the government proposal included having representatives from the National Transport Commission (NTC) and Albanese’s department meet with Pattel, which failed to sway the owner-driver.

"We have been very amicable but he is no mood to cooperate," the spokesman says.

"He told our office no and that there is no room for negotiation."

Pattel’s non-negotiable demands include disbanding the NTC, scrapping new logbook laws, stopping an increase in the fuel excise, excluding the trucking industry from any carbon tax and implementing a provision to ensure drivers are not penalised for exceeding prescribed driving hours.

Despite the fact fatigue management laws and logbook regulations are introduced at a state level, Albanese’s spokesman says the Government was still interested in briefing Pattel on the aspects of the laws and why they need to be introduced.

"At the end of the day there is nothing the minister can do because it is being introduced at a state level," he says.

The phone call from Albanese’s office follows a meeting in Townsville on May 24 in which owner-drivers met to vote on whether to keep or amend all of Pattel’s 15 demands.

According to Pattel, his proposal is gaining widespread support among owner-drivers who he says are fed up with the new regulations that keep being heaped upon the industry.

He says he is aiming to drag the shutdown out for two weeks by having drivers park their trucks at their homes and refusing to work.

"By then the country will be on its knees," he says.

But his planned strike has drawn sharp criticism from the Transport Workers Union (TWU), which has labelled him and his supporters "ratbags".

TWU Queensland Branch Secretary Hughie Williams says threatening governments with a list of demands and refusing to work will actually make it harder for the trucking industry to lobby for critical reforms because it may cause a public backlash.

"They have got no idea," Williams says.

"We can’t have these ratbags who set up little committees. They are doing more damage to the industry and more damage to the people than what they think they are doing."

He says the TWU has had no contact with Pattel and the Australian Long Distance Owner Drivers Association (ALDODA), which is also threatening strikes, because they do not represent the views of the industry.

"It is only their two bobs worth of glamour they are doing it for," Williams says.

Related stories:
- Owner-driver threatens strike to bring country to ‘its knees’
- Owner-driver shutdown for sustainable rates is great for industry: ALDODA

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