ACCC backs owner-driver push to bargain with Hanson

Owner-drivers in Queensland are one step closer to gaining full authorisation to collectively bargain with Hanson on rates and conditions

ACCC backs owner-driver push to bargain with Hanson
ACCC backs owner-driver push to bargain with Hanson
By Brad Gardner | November 8, 2012

A push by owner-drivers to band together and negotiate rates and conditions with construction firm Hanson in Queensland is one step closer to happening, with the competition regulator backing the move.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has issued a draft determination proposing to allow owner-drivers to collectively bargain with Hanson Construction Materials for five years.

The Transport Workers Union (TWU), which applied to the ACCC for authorisation, will represent the owner-drivers in negotiations on cartage rates, penalty payments, demurrage rates and reimbursement for painting and badging prime movers in company colours.

The ACCC granted interim authorisation on September 12 and is now looking to give the union and owner-drivers full approval.

"The ACCC considers it is appropriate to grant authorisation for the time requested, that is five years," it says.

The draft determination says collective bargaining will reduce costs because Hanson will be able to negotiate with one group instead of conducting a series of negotiations with individual owner-drivers.

"A single negotiation will also result in improving the level of input owner-drivers have in their negotiations with Hanson. This can provide a mechanism for more efficient outcomes on issues including rates, standards and equipment as well as the timing and delivery of services," the ACCC says.

It says owner-drivers are restricted in their ability to work for other businesses because they are engaged exclusively and face costs in switching between customers, such as surrendering agitators and re-branding their trucks.

Owner-drivers and Hanson will be free to choose if they want to participate in the collective bargaining process, which will not be open to Hanson employee drivers.

"Relevantly, if Hanson does not wish to negotiate with the owner-drivers as a group, it may choose not to do so," the ACCC says.

Hanson runs about 30 concrete-making plants in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast, with the company operating 27 plants in other Queensland regions.

The ACCC says it will now seek feedback to its draft proposal before issuing a final determination.

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