Union will pursue 'biased' mandatory rates report

New mandatory rates push hailed a breakthrough by the TWU, which is accused of biasing the NTC report recommendations

By Greg Bush and Samantha Freestone

A new push for mandatory rates has been hailed a breakthrough by the truckies’ union, which has been accused of having too much influence over a report recommending the controversial plan.

The Transport Workers Union (TWU) says it will pursue the findings in a National Transport Commission (NTC) report recommending national legislated rate structures for carriers.

TWU Queensland Secretary Hughie Williams says the industry’s recent poor safety record demands action.

"Personally, I’ve worked pretty hard amongst these owner-drivers for 20 or 30 years, and now we’ve got a breakthrough like this we’re not going to give it away," he tells ATN.

"We are going to pursue it in every possible way."

Employer groups lobbied hard against any regulation of contracts in submissions to the review into trucking safety and pay rates.

But the report says industry has ignored the "overwhelming" link between safety and pay systems, calling for a new tribunal to be established under federal legislation to set mandatory minimum rates across the trucking sector.

Steve Shearer, the Executive Director of the South Australian Road Transport Association (SARTA) and the author of the submission from the peak body the Australian Trucking Association (ATA), doubts the impartiality of the report.

He says the report is too focused on New South Wales and has been "heavily influenced by the NSW arm of the TWU".

"Rather than have a national perspective we have a report written with a heavy NSW bias, and their [the report authors'] background in this issue is heavily industrial relations influenced," he says of the report’s authors, occupational academic Professor Michael Quinlan and Lance Wright QC.

"Professor Quinlan wrote the Midnight Oil report 10 or so years ago, Wright is a past president of the NSW Industrial Relations Commission. Both of them being from NSW have been heavily influenced by the strong views of the NSW perspective, particularly that of the TWU.

"NSW needs to get real and not get pushed around by unions who are pushing their agendas."

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