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TWU NSW members consider rate increase

Owner drivers to consider 3pc car carrying rate lift after NSW IRC meeting

 

The Transport Workers’ Union of New South Wales will take a proposal to lift the industry rate for owner-drivers who work for car carriers back to its members, following talks in the NSW Industrial Relations Commission.

The TWU had called for a 3.4 per cent rise in the drivers’ industry rate during its negotiations with the Australian Industry Group (Ai Group), arguing the rise was necessary to address higher fuel, insurance and registration costs.

The Ai Group, which represents the interests of car-carrying companies and the NSW dealer network, had most recently advocated a rise of 2 per cent.

Yet negotiations reached an apparent breakthrough yesterday, with the TWU NSW announcing on its Facebook page that it had “secured a 3 per cent increase applied immediately, with no strings attached”.

The proposal must be endorsed by TWU members before it can be acted upon.

Speaking with ATN yesterday following protest action but before the NSW IRC appearance, TWU official Rob Rasmussen says the union was working with other groups in good faith to try to come to an arrangement.

“Since September last year, there has been a drastic increase in the price of fuel, so driver costs right now are running somewhere around 5.4 per cent above where they were last year, but we are only applying for a 3.4 per cent increase backdated to September,” Rasmussen says.

“The cost of doing their business today compared to what it was last year is 5.4 per cent greater and the companies are offering 2 per cent.”

The call for the increase was based on data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), as well as increases in the award wage and fuel prices, Rasmussen says.

“Bear in mind the last two variations were decreases, this is going back two and a bit years, and the drivers accepted those decreases because the benchmarks are the benchmarks,” he says.

“The companies acknowledge that the figures are the figures, however they are just not going to pay them.”

Rasmussen said that during negotiations companies often claim they are unable to pass on the full rate increase due to client pressure – saying they did not have the money available to pass onto drivers.

“I do understand the industry does that… our position is that the companies that work with the clients at least have the ability to negotiate with the person who is setting those rates,” he says.

“The unfortunate thing for our drivers is that we pay for our fuel, but we can’t negotiate with the fuel company, we pay insurances and rego but we can’t negotiate with Roads and Maritime Services or the insurance brokers to get our insurance down.”

“We are in a position where we can’t negotiate for any other relief on any other side of things, we can only negotiate with the people who are paying us, and the companies should do the same in reverse,” he says.

ATN attempted to speak with a representative of Ai Group but could not make contact before deadline.

 

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