Uncertainty and anxiety over safe rates, ARTIO says
Lots of questions yet to be answered but the process needs to be respected, says employer body
The very existence of the safe rates tribunal might still be debated, but it has to be taken seriously by all parties.
That’s the attitude of the body which represents trucking employers and hirers in front of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT).
The Australian Road Transport Industrial Organisation (ARTIO) held an industry breakfast with tribunal president Jennifer Acton as keynote speaker on February 9.
The tribunal delivered an order on minimum rates for supermarket distribution and long distance subbies just before Christmas.
Acton disappointed the audience by saying it would compromise her role if she answered questions of detail on the order.
She advised people with concerns to contact the Fair Work Ombudsman, industry organisations or to seek legal advice.
The breakfast was organised by Hugh McMaster, secretary/treasurer of the NSW branch of ARTIO.
He compares the safe rates order with the introduction of the GST, decimal currency and even the formation of the conciliation and arbitration commission in the early 1900s.
"None of us have answers to a lot of questions," he says.
"We are facing massive change and we don’t know what it means, so it’s understandable there’s uncertainty and anxiety.
"We are dealing with something that is black letter, but there are so many shades of grey.
"I think everybody has to realise as well that whatever part of the market they’re in, their competitors are facing the same issues."
Perhaps surprisingly, the ARTIO doesn’t seem to regard the Transport Workers Union as the mortal enemy in front of the tribunal.
McMaster says it’s better to try to reach agreement with the union if possible, rather than leaving things for the tribunal to decide.
He said there was "a fair bit of common ground" with the union in the recent order, for example "a lot of the elements of the cost model we agreed on".
In fact, a representative from the TWU as well as Linfox will be the keynote speakers at another ARTIO safe rates breakfast next month.
ARTIO hasn’t got a user-friendly guide on the order yet.
Neither could we find one at the time of writing on the websites of the tribunal itself, the Fair Work Ombudsman, Natroad, the Australian Trucking Association or the TWU.
However the Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association has a guide on its website.
Check out the full feature in the March issue of ATN.