NatRoad seeks member exemption from GCCD changes

By: Anjali Behl

Clark says interstate and independent contractors entitled to exemption, RFNSW sends off GCCD impact warning

NatRoad seeks member exemption from GCCD changes
NatRoad CEO Warren Clark says GCCD changes will have adverse affect on many small trucking businesses.


Industry bodies have gone into bat again over proposed pay-rate changes to the NSW General Carriers Contract Determination (GCCD).

While NatRoad has sought an exemption for its members from the proposed rates, Road Freight New South Wales (RFNSW) has issued another warning that the changes could spell disaster for the NSW trucking industry.

The proposed changes to the determination came in response to an application by the Transport Workers Union (TWU) NSW to vary the existing rules.

The union has proposed a phased introduction of the suggested mandatory hourly and kilometre rates for relevant contracts of carriage within the state.

The NSW Industrial Relations Commission is due to make a decision on rate-related issues during its next session later this year.

NatRoad has made an application to the NSW Industrial Relations Commission to exempt all those members who, operate largely as independent contractors, and want to be able to negotiate their payment rates to stay competitive.

NatRoad CEO Warren Clark says many of the members are not NSW-based and many other small transport operators merely transit through the state and therefore they should be eligible for exemption.

"Already we are seeing negative flow-on effects to our members in other States because of this latest industrial change by NSW," Clark says.

"An exemption for NatRoad members is also a move to protect principal contractors who hire owner drivers – many of whom are also everyday business people and family businesses from those who move freight interstate, to farmers moving livestock, grain or produce, millers moving timber, or deep sea fishers getting refrigerated seafood to major markets.

"We already know from recent experience how impractical and destructive of business applying ‘rates’ can be for owner drivers operating in regional and rural Australia.

"These drivers often carry several loads in one trip and rely on return loads to make a trip viable.

"Externally imposed rates make their businesses untenable and send them to the wall."

The GCCD has been in place since 1984, however, a recent commission ruling extended the scope and application of the determination.

Until recently, the rules only affected contractors and owner-drivers operating within the Sydney metropolitan area (Country of Cumberland) or those operating within 50km from the owner-driver’s home base.

However, the commission signalled a move that would see all contracts of carriage come under the GCCD obligations, including all interstate contractors operating anywhere within the state.

The rules also affect obligations of principal contractors and the owner-drivers they engage.

Clark says the recent changes "to ramp up and broaden the scope of the determination in the wake of RSRT is potentially devastating to our members, the road transport industry, and its associated industries".

"In the more than 30 years this little used determination has been in place, the NSW Industrial Relations Commission has only granted a single exemption in relation to rates."
He warns of "significant state-wide impact" if the changes and the increased rates issue is not fully understood.

NatRoad says its members are already reporting concerns and business loss, "with one member not being able to secure a return load out of Adelaide because of alarm over the determination and rates".

It had earlier sought clarification in the matter and says it will engage in the second stage of the Commission proceedings later this year, if necessary.

NatRoad has published an overview of the determination.

RFNSW GM Simon O’Hara says the union’s attempt of pursuing a RSRO-like outcome in a tribunal in NSW is "deeply alarming".

"This is bringing up the same concerns from RFNSW members on how they will afford to implement the proposed changes," he says.

Comparing it with the Contractor Driver Minimum Payments Road Safety Remuneration Order 2016 (RSRO), O’Hara says GCCD could replicate the threat posed by the minimum rates order.

"The operation of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT) demonstrated the threat to the viability of both owner drivers and the road transport businesses that engage them that can flow from regulation setting minimum rates at inappropriate levels.

O’Hara warns that the changes are not only a threat to the NSW trucking industry, but also to interstate operators that operate in NSW.

He says the impact of the changes could potentially expand to other industries as well.

"Because of the high risks involved in these GCCD changes, Road Freight NSW will work with our members on submissions for the case before the IRC [NSW Commission] in the coming weeks, and we will continue to oppose the TWU’s claim in these proceedings," O’Hara says.

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