Safe rates review divides ATA council members

ATA council members are divided over the lobby group's decision to argue against government intervention in the marketplace

The Australian Trucking Association’s (ATA) decision to argue against government intervention in the marketplace has divided its council, with some members supporting an overhaul of remuneration methods.

In releasing the ATA’s submission to the National Transport Commission’s (NTC) review into pay rates, ATA Chairman Trevor Martyn says a minority of the council opposed the lobby group’s position.

He says the Transport Workers Union (TWU), which has long argued safety is driven by economic factors, rejected the ATA’s stance that speed and fatigue enforcement measures are the best way to improve safety outcomes.

Furthermore, Martyn says the ATA’s owner-driver representative also sided with the TWU.

"The TWU and owner-driver representatives on the ATA General Council consider there is a proven casual link," Martyn says.

"They consider that a ‘safe rates’ regime would be the principal mechanism for improving safety and an effective addition to the impending chain of responsibility and driving hours and fatigue management reforms."

But, as expected, the submission rejects a role for governments to play.

"Our submission argues that a ‘safe rates’ regime will not improve or resolve the behavioural and operational issues which need to be addressed if improved safety outcomes are to be achieved," Martyn says.

According to Martyn, it is "a false argument" to think setting rates will deliver any benefits as opposed to fatigue management laws and greater enforcement measures to catch speeding drivers.

However, he says it is no reason to suggest the ATA supports current remuneration methods.

"The ATA acknowledges that some businesses and sectors of the industry are doing it tough at the moment and that some clients’ practices exacerbate this," he says.

Despite the division over the submission, Martyn says the council was united in its support for more to be done to increase safety in the trucking industry.

He says the council agreed the key objective must be safety and chain of responsibility laws, anti-speeding measures and the new fatigue management regime will go a long way towards addressing safety issues.

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