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VTU delays strike over impending fuel rate change

VTU set to settle on new diesel rate and abandon strike plans

Victorian Tippers’ United (VTU) has suspended its plans to strike in front of Victoria’s Parliament House today due to the Victorian government agreeing to bring in new fuel rates for the transport industry.

Last week the VTU signalled its intentions to park over 200 tip trucks in front of Parliament House and stop working if the government didn’t change the fuel excise amount for diesel after prices have soared to over $2 per litre.

Associations like the Victorian Transport Association (VTA) described the planned strike as “disgraceful”, while the VTU remained adamant it was acting on behalf of many transport workers who had been hit hard by rising fuel prices.

But today the VTU says it has suspended its strike plans due to the Victorian government agreeing to implement new fuel rates by the end of this week.

“We’re now waiting on the Transport Ministry Council to sign off on the re-calculation of the fuel rate, then the government will gazette it. We’ve been told this will happen by the end of the week,” VTU spokesman Luke McCrone says.

“It’s all still a bit up in the air, we have to see if it will actually happen, but today they told me they’re on track for it.”

If the VTU manages to agree with the government to raise the fuel excise for diesel from its current $1.40 per litre amount, it will mean transport companies will receive more money as part of its contract or hourly rate to operate heavy vehicles.

“The issue was that the government had diesel price rates at only $1.40 a litre, which wouldn’t mean our workers would get that money back, it means that amount is built into our hourly or contract rate,” McCrone says.

“If they do re-do that calculation to match fuel at its current rate, we could see improvements in our hourly rate of up to $5 to $12 an hour based on the type of truck.”

It’s a significant result for the VTU and Victorian transport workers alike, who will become the aim of the VTU if the fuel excise is successfully increased.

The VTU says it will then aim to make sure the increased rates flow through the rest of the industry so that transport companies aren’t still left hurting by the current price of diesel.

“The aim of the game is to help us recover our costs, if we don’t need to stop working then it is a good result for all parties concerned,” McCrone says.

“Our challenge in the short term is to make sure the fuel excise rise gets through the industry, because in a few months the government will review the cost model with a view of having a floating price for diesel.”

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This floating price rate would mean the rate for diesel wouldn’t be set just once a year, as it will instead be more responsive to the changing price of diesel.

McCrone and the VTU support this eventual change and say it will be an appropriate option for both the public and private sector.

“The floating cost model will be more palatable for the private sector because they will be able to actually see the rates going up and down based on the price of diesel, meaning we’ll have much more success in getting that option across the industry and making it standard for everyone in the future,” McCrone says.

“What matters at the end of the day is that the money goes into the company account.”

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