Archive, Industry News

NatRoad joins industry complaint of union

Sheldon retaliates as Clark accuses TWU of using safety issue to 'build union power',


The National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) has criticised the workers’ union approach to deal with issues concerning the road transport sector.

NatRoad chief executive Warren Clark says the Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) refuses to acknowledge government investment in infrastructure and regulations to improve safety in the industry.

Clark accuses the union of using the subject to road safety for the benefit of increasing its membership count.

“It is never about safety – safety is just a smokescreen for building union power,” he says.

“It is all safety on the surface but in the NSW Industrial Commission, in the Victorian inquiry into the Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Act, in the Fair Work Commission review into the awards that govern this sector – we can see firsthand the true motivations of the unions – to destroy small trucking businesses.

“The complex provisions put forward by the union in these forums seek to create confusion in the industry and ongoing industrial change which adds to the challenge of running a small to medium trucking business.”

While the union continues to harp on the subject of safe rates and how the demise of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal was an ill-fated decision, industry bodies argue that it had the potential to do more harm than good.

“The unions need to recognise that improving safety will not come about by setting rates and interfering with the market or creating confusing, complex and inconsistent regulatory and industrial requirements across Australia,” Clark says.

“We know that safety in the road freight industry is vastly different from the 1980’s and that government, regulators, industry organisations and individual businesses continue to make significant investments to improve safety.”

NatRoad acknowledges the government’s intention to improve road safety by increasing the regulatory powers of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR), and other projects such as black spot improvement, national camera system, review of roadworthiness systems, updating chain of responsibility (COR) guidelines, among others.

NatRoad has also joined the chorus of complaints made by the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) and the South Australian Road Transport Association (SARTA) against TWU for organising a safety summit while failing to invite industry representative bodies.

While the union may have dodged the point of why these associations were not invited to the event, it nevertheless criticises the three bodies “for their opposition to improvements in rates and safety for drivers”.

TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon highlights the report presented during the summit that painted a picture of opposing views on safety among owner-drivers and employee drivers.

“Last week we held a safety summit attended by drivers, academics and employers who are interested in putting an end to the horror statistics of deaths and injuries among drivers and who want to see those at the top of the transport supply chain held to account,” he says.

“We heard about research showing the long hours drivers are forced to work and how some cannot raise safety concerns for fear of losing their jobs.”

Sheldon also accuses NatRoad and other industry bodies for “demanding even lower pay and allowances through a review of award rates”.

“We don’t hear these employers’ groups proposing solutions to this crisis [truck driver fatlity] – all we hear is their criticism of our efforts to address it,” he says.

“According to NatRoad, SARTA and the ATA there is no need for rates to increase for drivers.

“These groups also want us to believe that drivers are not under pressure and don’t need improvements to safety.”

The union insists that the issue is about “fairness for drivers and transport operators and safety for everyone on our roads”.

Previous ArticleNext Article
  1. Australian Truck Radio Listen Live
Send this to a friend