Coles to RSRT: don’t give truck drivers a fixed pay rate

By: Brad Gardner

Coles says a minimum rate for truck drivers will be “manifestly unworkable”.

Coles to RSRT: don’t give truck drivers a fixed pay rate
Coles says fixed pay rates will be "manifestly unworkable".


One of the country’s largest retailers is fighting attempts to mandate pay rates for contractor truck drivers, telling the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT) minimum payments will be "manifestly unworkable".

Pitting itself against trucking operators who want reform to remuneration methods, Coles says a fixed rate will not reflect the variables that exist in the industry.

Coles General Manager of Transport and Integration Craig Wickham says attempts to impose a set rate will require the tribunal to make a number of assumptions on vehicle and labour costs.

In a letter to the tribunal, Wickham warns a minimum rate will lead to a "disproportionate advantage to some contractor drivers, whilst being wholly ineffective in ensuring cost recovery for others".

"Coles does not support the making (or variation) of a RSRO [road safety remuneration order] which attempts to establish an ‘all in’ minimum rate for each class of heavy vehicle encompassing both labour and capital cost components," he says.

"Coles considers such an approach to be manifestly unworkable given the vast array of differing circumstances that may apply to drivers of a particular vehicle class."

However, Wickham adds that the RSRT should look at the Victorian Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Code if it plans on tinkering with the remuneration of contractor drivers.

The code does not mandate minimum rates, but it requires parties to take into account fixed and variable costs and a fair return for the contractor’s labour when setting rates.

"To be clear, Coles does not propose that the Victorian Code be adopted by the Tribunal," Wickham writes.

"However, should the Tribunal be minded to make a ‘rates’ order, Coles submits that a flexible model based on guiding principles and indicative rates (supported by an appropriate dispute resolution mechanism) is far more appropriate than a rigid minimum rate model which cannot adequately reflect the differences in cost inputs ‘on the ground’."

Intercapital Trucking, Australian Fast Freight and Robert Mitchell Transport earlier this month wrote to the RSRT asking it to fix pay rates for contractors and introduce an industry-wide cost calculator.

The parties also asked the tribunal to require companies to add 10 per cent to the final figure paid to contractors to ensure a profit margin.

Another truck driver wants the tribunal to approve a tax-free weekly "danger money" allowance paid at a rate of $100 a day.

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