CEVA faces five years of bargaining with owner-drivers

CEVA's bid to prevent union involvement in its operations appears lost, with ACCC supporting owner-drivers wanting to collectively bargain

CEVA faces five years of bargaining with owner-drivers
CEVA faces five years of bargaining with owner-drivers
By Brad Gardner | June 29, 2012

The competition regulator has thrown its support behind a union push for owner-drivers to collectively bargain with CEVA Logistics in Queensland.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) today announced it planned to grant full authorisation to the Transport Workers Union’s (TWU) application for owner-drivers to form a group and negotiate pay, penalty and demurrage rates for five years.

The ACCC last month granted interim authorisation while a decision was being made. CEVA Logistics opposes the proposal and can still make its views known before the ACCC makes a final decision.

But in its draft determination issued today, the ACCC rejects CEVA’s concerns the proposal is anti-competitive. The determination says the owner-drivers have limited input into contract terms and conditions.

"The ACCC considers that the collective bargaining arrangement is likely to result in public benefits by improving the level of input drivers have in their negotiations with CEVA," the determination says.

"Further, there are likely to transaction cost savings (including in contract administration) for drivers and CEVA, due to single negotiation rather than a series of individual negotiations."

Once implemented, the decision will allow owner-drivers to form a negotiating group. The TWU will able to provide administrative support and attend negotiations. Union representatives can amend proposals and speak on behalf of the owner-drivers.

The TWU lodged an application in May to bargain on behalf of the owner-drivers, claiming CEVA held too much power in setting terms and conditions.

CEVA believes collective bargaining will "substantially" lessen competition and "substantially increase" its costs compared to its competitors.

It has depots near Brisbane and Townsville and uses 45 owner-drivers, 31 of which are TWU members. Most of the owner-drivers to be represented work in south-east Queensland and northern NSW.

In its submission to the ACCC in May, the union claims trucking rates have not increased since July 2010 and that owner-drivers are forced to accept what is offered or find work elsewhere.

"On balance, the ACCC considers that the collective bargaining is likely to result in a benefit to the public and that this benefit would outweigh the detriment to the public due to any lessening of competition that is likely to result from the collective bargaining," the ACCC says.

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