RSRT-style review launched
THE VICTORIAN government will review the laws regulating ownerdrivers and forestry contractors, announcing an inquiry into the industry’s practices post the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT).
Stating that “economic pressures” have “forced some drivers into unsafe practices”, the state-run review is seeking submissions by the end of January next year.
The inquiry comes after “the Victorian Inquiry into Labour Hire Industry and Insecure Work recently heard evidence on a range of issues regarding rates of pay, certainty of working hours, and occupational health and safety for tip truck ownerdrivers”, a government statement says, and will “look at the inquiry’s recommendations, including a code of practice for the tip truck industry and the threshold requirements on hirers to provide applicable rates and costs to owner drivers”.
It will also “examine contracting requirements and dispute-resolution mechanisms available to owner-drivers, and seek to address any avoidance of rights and responsibilities under the ODFC Act and Regulations”, the statement says.
The move by the Victorian Labor government follows a decision by the federal Coalition to abolish the RSRT installed by the previous Labor federal government.
The tribunal was officially removed in April, just weeks after it came into existence, and saw the Liberal party and NatRoad go head to head with the Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) and the Labor party in a war of words.
Both sides claimed they had ownerdrivers’ best wishes in mind.
Natroad CEO Warren Clark says the Victorian review has “all the hallmarks of union-pushed industrial changes that unfairly target small trucking businesses in the transport sector”.
“The unions have active industrial campaigns to bring about these unfair changes in New South Wales and now in Victoria,” he says.
“Road transport doesn’t stop at state borders – so why do we continue to create red tape and complex industrial awards for a national industry?”
Clark says adequate Commonwealth protections for small operators and contract carriers are in place through the Fair Work Act and the Independent Contractors Act.
“The federal Parliament is also actively pursuing greater 30-day payment protections for small businesses, which will benefit mum and dad trucking operations,” he adds.
Clark says Natroad will make a submission to the Victorian government’s review and continue to represent members’ interests in the NSW Industrial Commission, where the unions are pushing similar rates on the industry. Submissions to the Victorian government inquiry close January 31.