NTC to investigate pay methods in trucking industry

By: Jason Whittaker


Heavy vehicle driver pay rates may be overhauled following the announcement the National Transport Commission (NTC) will investigate remuneration and

Heavy vehicle driver pay rates may be overhauled following the announcement the National Transport Commission (NTC) will investigate remuneration and payment methods in the industry.

The NTC will examine the relationship between current pay rates and road safety and will identify options for implementing a system of safe rates for employees and owner-drivers.

The NTC will focus strongly on the latter, with a government statement saying it will recognise "the special vulnerabilities of independent contractors in the transport industry".

Following its investigation, the NTC will report to the Australian Transport Council (ATC) with recommendations for reform.

The former president of the NSW Industrial Relations Commission, Lance Wright QC, and Professor Michael Quinlan will assist the NTC, which will release its report in November.

The Federal Government intends to implement the NTC’s reforms in the context of changes to national road transport regulation and the introduction of the new workplace relations system.

A joint statement from Workplace Relations Minister Julia Gillard and Minister for Transport Anthony Albanese says many drivers often find themselves in a weak bargaining position when it comes to pay.

The announcement is a win for the Transport Workers Union (TWU), which has long argued low pay rates are pushing up the heavy vehicle road toll as many drivers are forced to work excessive hours to make a living.

"From 2000-2004, one in five road deaths involved heavy vehicles, with speed and fatigue widely acknowledged to be significant factors," the statement says.

"During recent years several reports have also linked unsafe work practices in the trucking industry to road accidents."

The investigation follows on from an agreement from the ATC on February 29 concerning the need for a coordinated national transport plan. The NTC was requested to review and make recommendations relating to truck driver pay and remunerations methods.

According to the statement, the Government will work with all stakeholders to determine the best route to take in ensuring the trucking industry’s long-term viability.

NSW Minister for Roads Eric Roozendaal says it is important the State plays a key role in the process because of the importance NSW plays in the freight task.

"It's appropriate that both these reforms will have such a strong involvement from NSW with up to 80 percent of long distance road freight in Australia travelling on the NSW road network," he says.

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