Gillard names team to drive 'safe rates' agenda

<font color=red><b>EXCLUSIVE:</b></font> Industry heavy-hitters tasked with delivering Government's overhaul of pay rates in trucking

Gillard names team to drive 'safe rates' agenda
Gillard names team to drive ‘safe rates’ agenda
By Brad Gardner | December 15, 2009

An advisory group made up of industry heavy-hitters has been tasked with delivering on the Rudd Government’s planned overhaul of the pay rates in the trucking industry.

ATN has obtained a letter from Industrial Relations Minister Julia Gillard naming the 12 members of the group responsible for developing a policy paper on the issue.

Although the names were not due to be released until later this week, the group will include Linfox, Scott’s Transport, Bluescope Steel and representatives from the Transport Workers Union (TWU).

The Queensland-based operator and a member of the Queensland Trucking Association, Tothag Transport, will also be at the table.

"The Safe Rates Advisory Group will provide a forum for confidential discussion at a senior level on key policy and practical issues related to safety in the transport industry," Gillard writes.

The group will be chaired by industrial relations expert Scott Chamberlin, who is the former executive director of skills and workplace policy for the Housing Industry Association (HIA).

The CEO of the Victorian Transport Association (VTA) Phil Lovel (pictured) will also be part of the group, which includes fatigue management expert Professor Ann Williamson from the University of NSW and HB Higgins Chambers barrister Adam Hatcher. Paul Ryan, the VTA's industrial relations advisor, has also been given membership.

Gillard writes that the group will consider and build upon the recommendations of the National Transport Commission’s report into remuneration in the industry which found a link between safety and pay rates.

Gillard says the group will also look at ‘safe rates’ in the context of existing state and federal regulations and the Council of Australian Governments’ (COAG) decision to establish uniform transport laws.

The group will also need to consider the impact on safety and the well-being of drivers and other reviews and inquiries into pay rates.

This includes looking at the recommendations of an inquiry by Lance Wright QC and Professor Michael Quinlan in 2008 that criticised current pay practices and identified low pay with poor safety.

The first meeting will be held tomorrow in Melbourne, with no mention of when the policy paper will be available for industry comment.

The TWU has long argued that pressure from clients and poor pay has forced truck drivers to commit unsafe practices.

It wants urgent action from the Government to reform the industry and has kick-started a new campaign of planting crosses in public places to show how many people have died from truck-related incidents since the NTC issued its report.

Are these the right representatives to advise the Government on pay rates? What areas of the industry should they be looking at? Leave your comments below...

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