TWU applauds Andrews on Vic tipper truck rates move


Plan to define driver rates as state gears up for huge infrastructure effort

TWU applauds Andrews on Vic tipper truck rates move
Daniel Andrews

 

The Victorian government has pledged to mandate minimum hourly rates for tip truck owner drivers across all government infrastructure projects, the Transport Workers Union (TWU) Victoria/Tasmania Branch says.

According to branch secretary John Berger, the plan to overhaul the wage structure on these works followed a long and sustained TWU campaign and was both a huge win for severely underpaid drivers and a de-facto road safety measure.

In announcing the plan at the 2017 Branch Delegates Conference, premier Daniel Andrews reportedly said it was time all workers on state government jobs "shared in the benefits of that investment in a fair and equitable way".

The union insists a system of hourly rates will "put an end to dodgy plant hirers operating on the archaic and often below parity pay-by-the-load system from exploiting vulnerable owner drivers".

It claims the system has led to significant undercutting and safety breaches and has provided incentives for drivers to adopt unsafe practices, such as working dangerously long hours, illegally overloading trucks and breaking road rules.

The TWU has been publicly warning authorities about the exponential increase in tipper accidents over recent years with the increase in both private and public infrastructure projects attracting new players to the industry and increasing competition.

It says the situation will only worsen if works on dozens of level crossings, the Western Distributor, Metro Tunnel and North-East Link projects – that will cost up to $1billion a kilometre to tunnel – were to go ahead under load rate conditions.

"It is a brutal existence for many and the situation is at flashpoint as more and more of these drivers are operating dangerously each day in densely-populated suburban areas, anecdotally, breaking fatigue laws, speeding, running red lights and, sometimes, rolling when cornering, while packed with over 20 tonnes of construction site debris," Berger says.

"A system of hourly rates will automatically correct or counter most, if not all, of these issues."

The state government has been developing a Code of Practice for the tipper industry "but Friday’s announcement was the first concrete commitment that safe rates would be incorporated into all mud-carting contracts for state works", the union reports.

It also quotes Andrews as saying: "I do acknowledge that, as big, as comprehensive, as this infrastructure agenda and this spend is, the benefits of that program do not always get shared equitably or fairly, not everyone necessarily shares in the benefits of that investment.

"[These drivers] are part of the team that is delivering the infrastructure agenda and I want to make sure they are treated properly. I know this is something that will be welcomed, because you have campaigned for it, you have pushed for it so very hard for such a long time.

"I want to thank John and the TWU for your leadership, for your advocacy, you have made us understand how important this issue is and that is why I am so very proud to make this commitment today.

"It is another way of saying that, without this union, without your leadership, we just would not be making these important reforms."

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