IR 'complexities' stifling moves to fixed rates

The move to fixed rates has stalled, with the Rudd Government struggling to reconcile the scheme with industrial relations legislation

IR 'complexities' stifling moves to fixed rates
IR 'complexities' stifling moves to fixed rates
By Brad Gardner

The move to fixed rates has hit a hurdle, with the Rudd Government struggling to reconcile the proposed scheme with industrial relations legislation.

A spokesman for the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanese says determining how to extend coverage to owner-drivers means it is hard to say when fixed rates will be introduced.

Industrial relations law does not cover businesses, and the spokesman says discussions are centring on how best to include owner-drivers alongside employees under the new regime.

"We are moving as quickly as possible but there is a degree of complexity associated with it," the spokesman says.

Despite this, he says discussions are continuing among Albanese, Minister for Small Business Craig Emerson and Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Julia Gillard, who are all involved in the process.

The Transport Workers Union (TWU) is pushing for the Government to mandate rates as quickly as possible after a report released in November last year called for sweeping changes.

The report’s authors, Professor Michael Quinlan and Lance Wright QC, argued there was a link between safety and rates of pay.

The report recommended scrapping incentive-based payments as well as the cents-per-kilometre rate.

TWU Federal Secretary Tony Sheldon says the Government must act immediately "to ensure that the drivers across Australia have a safe working environment".

"This would mean that drivers across Australia would not have to face the shocking and often deadly choice of having to do ‘just one more load’ to make a living for themselves and their families," Sheldon says.

The report was handed to the Australian Transport Council (ATC) after the Rudd Government announced the inquiry in July last year.

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