Modern award will help new operators undercut rivals: Abetz

New trucking operators in NSW will be able to undercut existing companies under new awards system, senator claims

Modern award will help new operators undercut rivals: Abetz
Modern award will help new operators undercut rivals: Abetz
By Brad Gardner | June 4, 2010

New trucking operators in NSW will be able to exploit provisions under the Rudd Government’s new awards system at the expense of competitors, Coalition Senator Eric Abetz claims.

Rates under NSW awards will be cut by 20 percent each year from July 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014 to bring them into line with other jurisdictions to create a national awards system.

However, employees under the existing awards will be able to apply to Fair Work Australia for take-home pay orders to have their pay maintained at the current level while they remain in the same job.

"For whatever reason, in NSW they used to enjoy a higher rate of pay than elsewhere and chances are that current transport operators will be subjected to take-home pay orders to maintain the level of pay for their workers," Abetz says.

"But if I were a new entrant into the field on 1 July, I could pay all my brand new employees in my brand new business at the level of the new modern award and, therefore, undercut the competition."

Abetz made the claims during budget estimates hearings and asked the Deputy Secretary of Workplace Relations, John Kovacic, to confirm if new companies will have an advantage over existing employers.

"I would want to confirm that. I would take that on notice, just in terms of the precise operation of transitional provisions in that relevant modern award," Kovacic responded.

"I just want to know how a take-home order can be applied to a brand new business where there is no pre-existing history as of 1 July," Abetz says.

Workers applying for take-home pay orders must meet set criteria before Fair Work Australia approves an application.

The Australian Road Transport Industrial Organisation (ARTIO) claims NSW rates are 10 to 15 percent higher than other jurisdictions.

During the award modernisation process, the Transport Workers Union pushed for the NSW awards to be introduced nationwide, claiming pay reductions would have a negative effect on pay, annual leave, overtime and redundancy.

The adjustments will apply to one of the three transport awards that replace about 120 awards currently in the industry.

Those in NSW transitioning to the Road Transport and Distribution Award will have their pay reduced, unlike those who will work under the Road Transport (Long Distance Operations) Award and the Transport (Cash in Transit) Award.

The higher allowances, casual loading and penalty rates in the NSW-based awards will also be cut by the same amount under the transitional arrangements.

Related story:
NSW award rates slashed on balance; 'drivers worse off'

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