TWU reiterates concern at infrastructure surcharges

Sheldon says problem 'cannot go unchecked for much longer'

TWU reiterates concern at infrastructure surcharges
Tony Sheldon says the issue is having a devastating effect on the transport industry


In a move reminiscent of its campaigns against grocery giants and for ‘safe rates’, the Transport Workers Union (TWU) has quoted truck drivers to criticise stevedores’ ‘infrastructure surcharges’.

The union is highlighting the controversial charges that DP World Australia (DPWA) and Patrick have introduced or hiked this year.

"These access fees are putting pressure on an industry already struggling on tight margins," TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon says, while repeating his call for an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) probe.

"We know this kind of financial pressure results in transport operators forced to cut back on truck maintenance and results in drivers pushed to speed and drive long hours.

"Just last week we saw official statistics show an increase of 9.4 per cent in deaths from articulated truck crashes since last year.

"I again appeal to the ACCC to investigate this distorting, unilateral fee hike.

"Clients are clearly calling the shots and this is having devastating effect on the transport industry.

"Transport operators have little bargaining powers against these powerful stevedores, which demand payment or hold out the threat of cutting operators off the Vehicle Booking Scheme, which allows them to operator at the ports.

"This problem cannot go unchecked for much longer."

While the stevedores point to higher running cost and charges that must be passed on as justifying the surcharges, the TWU highlights the discrepancy between the period within which stevedores demand to get paid and when transport operators get paid by their clients.

It says the stevedores are demanding payment within 28 days while operators can wait up to 90 days for payment, creating huge pressure on cash flow and knock-on effects for maintenance of fleets and drivers’ pay.

The TWU quotes Melbourne owner-driver owner driver Paul Mifsud as saying any price hike for operators "can have devastating consequences".

"It means there just isn’t the cash flow to carry out the work, so families are crippled, businesses go bankrupt and injuries and deaths go up."

It also quotes a NSW driver, Darren Coulstock, as saying there is "a serious knock on effect for drivers".

"We already are working in Australia’s most dangerous job. Nearly 40 per cent of all workplace fatalities involve transport workers. Increasing fees will impact on this."


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