Safe rates tribunal drives change within NatRoad

NatRoad to become registered organisation so it can make applications to the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal

Safe rates tribunal drives change within NatRoad
Safe rates tribunal drives change within NatRoad
By Brad Gardner | August 6, 2012

Industry group NatRoad is pushing to become a key player in the industrial relations realm in a move that will give it the power to front Fair Work Australia and the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal.

The group has used its annual conference to announce it will become a registered organisation under the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act so it can make applications to both bodies on behalf of its members.

Set up on July 1, the tribunal has the power to set remuneration conditions throughout the supply chain covering areas such as waiting times and wages. The tribunal was the Federal Government’s response to findings linking low rates of pay to poor safety, and industry groups must be registered to make applications to it and represent individuals and operators.

"For NatRoad to be able to represent its members it needs to be at the table in relation to this particular tribunal. Without registration, I can tell you, you won’t be at the table," lawyer Michael Connolly from HWL Ebsworth, the firm responsible for helping NatRoad register, told the conference.

Connolly (pictured) says registration will allow NatRoad to involve itself in proceedings before FWA, such as in relation to seeking orders and varying modern awards.

NatRoad CEO Chris Melham says the group’s desire to appear before the tribunal is about making sure members can pass on costs relating to the carbon tax, waiting times and wage increases.

"That’s really the focus behind it," he says.

Connolly says operators represented by NatRoad will be able to remain anonymous to protect themselves from potential retaliation from a client miffed about being hauled before the tribunal.

"It’s nearly like a buffer between you and that main creditor," Connolly says.

"What you will find with registration is NatRoad is the entity that will be taking the application forward on your behalf."

The tribunal is made up of a mix of FWA commissioners and industry representatives. It will be able to make rulings of its own free will and to act on applications that come before it.

In announcing the reform last year, Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said the tribunal would make sure drivers were paid enough to work safely, manage their hours and maintain their vehicles.

The tribunal is required to identify areas it intends to investigate. Its scope covers employee drivers and independent contractors, while the Fair Work Ombudsman will be charged with making sure all parties in the supply chain comply with any orders.

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