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TWU hopeful driver pay rates will be reformed

Union believes discussions have reached a point where the industry may see a new rates structure for owner-drivers.

 

The Transport Workers Union (TWU) is optimistic its push to overhaul pay rates for owner-drivers will become a reality.    

Discussions on pay rates involving industry representative bodies and the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT) have been going on for some time, and talks are now reaching a critical stage.  

The TWU has long advocated a floor price for owner-drivers be set to ensure they receive a guaranteed level of cost recovery.  

“We’re increasingly hopeful we’re going to get an outcome along those lines,” TWU assistant national secretary Michael Kaine says.  

“We’re now at a point where parties are discussing what that means and what the rates would be.”  

The RSRT has continued its work despite uncertainty about its future.

The Abbott government, which does not support the tribunal, commissioned a review of the RSRT late last year.  

The findings have been handed to the government, but no date has been set for when it will formally respond.

However, the government has indicated it will try to abolish the RSRT.  

Kaine says the TWU is working to convince the community and political parties of the need to retain the RSRT, which is designed to improve the safety of truck drivers by ensuring they receive enough remuneration to make ends meet.  

“This is a matter that should be above politics. It’s about saving people’s lives,” Kaine says.  

The TWU is highly critical of the review given the Abbott government’s views on the tribunal and its rejection of a link between pay and safety.

“Clearly in those circumstances it’s got nothing to do with a genuine review, it’s just a piece of paper to support a pre-determined political position,” Kaine says.  

Kaine has also taken issue with consultant Rex Deighton-Smith, who was tasked with carrying out the review.  

Kaine, union delegates and drivers spoke with Deighton-Smith over the phone as part of the review’s consultation process.  

“I was on the phone to him for four hours because he knew very little about the industry,” he says.  

“I was astounded he had no direct transport experience at all. He hadn’t run a company, he hadn’t driven trucks and he’s so-called expertise came from doing reviews for governments and doing economic modelling.”  

Assistant minister for infrastructure Jamie Briggs last week criticised the RSRT as over-regulation of the transport industry.  

He told the Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association (ALRTA) the government has “always been very uncomfortable” with the RSRT.  

“I think you can see the direction the government is intending to take,” he added.  

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