Pay linked to safety
New tribunal will focus on truck drivers’ wages and working conditions
and make a ‘‘ Road Safety Remuneration Order to improve the on-road safety outcomes for drivers operating in that sector’’ if it determines that a ‘‘ sector of the industry has poor safety outcomes as a result of low remuneration’’.
The move to set up the tribunal comes as no surprise given the Government released the Safe Rates, Safe Roads paper last year and established an advisory group to help introduce the new legal body.
It follows National Transport Commission findings that drivers are sometimes forced into risky work habits, such as speeding, working long hours and using illicit substances.
Transport Workers Union national secretary Tony Sheldon, who has long pressed for a Safe Rates tribunal, says it will make a difference.
‘‘ Trucking is Australia’s deadliest industry,’’ he says.
‘‘ For far too long, truck drivers, whether owner-drivers or employee-drivers, have been squeezed by large and powerful clients to meet absurd deadlines, to work for rates that are too low or to endure hours and hours of unpaid waiting.
‘‘ This reform recognises that the concentrated market power of the likes of the major retailers compromises safety and compels less powerful players in the supply chain to accept rates of payment that barely cover costs and places deadly pressures on drivers.’’
Sheldon says the tribunal will not reduce competition.
‘‘ This is a highly competitive industry and always will be. This is about putting safety into the industry,’’ he says.