Stand­ing up for our driv­ers’ pay, rights

Big Rigs - - OPIN­ION - RICHARD OLSEN TWU NSW State Sec­re­tary

IT’S an on­go­ing is­sue for the mem­bers of the Trans­port Work­ers’ Union: some­one, some­where is al­ways try­ing to chip away at the in­come a driver takes home.

We have al­ready fought off the NatRoad at­tack on the Gen­eral Car­ri­ers Con­tract De­ter­mi­na­tion (GCCD), an agree­ment that has pro­vided min­i­mum rates, con­di­tions and se­cu­rity of in­come to owner-driv­ers for over 30 years. We have also been at log­ger­heads with them over al­lowances for driv­ers and won. Th­ese are is­sues that are rel­e­vant to the owner driver, mum-and-dad-style busi­nesses, and the em­ployee-driver.

Now we’re tak­ing on the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment over driver in­comes. The Aus­tralian Tax Of­fice (ATO) ap­pears to have to­tally for­got­ten to con­sult with our in­dus­try be­fore ar­bi­trar­ily toss­ing aside the amount of ex­penses a driver can claim at tax time. The amount driv­ers can claim in meal al­lowances with­out show­ing re­ceipts has been cut to $55.30 per day, down from $97.40.

Driv­ers are rightly up­set. The long hours, many con­sec­u­tive nights away from home and high cost of food and fa­cil­i­ties at truck stops ap­pear to be an ab­so­lute rev­e­la­tion when ex­plained to bu­reau­crats at the ATO. The TWU met them in Au­gust to op­pose the changes and de­mand a rev­er­sal of the de­ci­sion.

Many driv­ers have told me that they are de­pen­dent on their al­lowance. Af­ter all, the cut amounts to up­wards of $200-a-week out of their pock­ets.

On be­half of truck driv­ers, we asked why those who are on the road for a liv­ing were not con­sulted. It was clear to us that the ATO has lit­tle or no un­der­stand­ing of what life is like on the road. We know that for some driv­ers work means up to 80 hours a week in their truck.

The TWU has set out de­mands to the ATO, we want them to com­mu­ni­cate with us a time frame which will see this mess cleaned up.

While we await an out­come, we would in­vite you to help us keep up the pres­sure on the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment.

If you are a truck driver, a fam­ily mem­ber or a sup­porter of our in­dus­try, please sign our on­line pe­ti­tion. Through that we will also be able to con­tact your lo­cal mem­ber to pass on the mes­sage.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

TOUGH LIFE: Long hours, many con­sec­u­tive nights away from home and high cost of food and fa­cil­i­ties at truck stops are con­cerns that came as a sur­prise to the ATO.

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