At the fore­front

With seven decades of ex­pe­ri­ence be­hind it, NatRoad con­tin­ues to lead the way in in­dus­trial re­la­tions for the Australian road trans­port in­dus­try,

Owner Driver - - Owner/Driver - writes War­ren Clark

THIS YEAR the Na­tional Road Trans­port As­so­ci­a­tion, NatRoad, cel­e­brates its 70th an­niver­sary.

We have a proud his­tory of serv­ing our mem­bers and re­main com­mit­ted to rep­re­sent­ing the road trans­port in­dus­try.

Since 1948 NatRoad has been ad­vo­cat­ing for the now $ 40 bil­lion road freight in­dus­try and work­ing to­ward se­cur­ing the longterm vi­a­bil­ity of thou­sands of truck­ing busi­nesses.

Al­ready it has been a busy year. NatRoad is one of the few as­so­ci­a­tions that are ac­tive in in­dus­trial re­la­tions.

We have ap­peared in the Fair Work Com­mis­sion (FWC), the NSW In­dus­trial Re­la­tions Com­mis­sion and writ­ten a num­ber of in­quiry sub­mis­sions. One of these in­quiries is the re­view be­ing un­der­taken by the Vic­to­rian gov­ern­ment into owner- driver and forestry con­trac­tor laws. Red tape con­tin­ues to bur­den small busi­nesses and in­dus­trial up­heaval is far from over.

In late March, NatRoad ap­peared at the Fair Work Com­mis­sion in Syd­ney as part of on­go­ing ef­forts to re­duce the reg­u­la­tory bur­den faced by truck­ing busi­nesses.

There are two main awards that gov­ern the road trans­port in­dus­try: the Road Trans­port and Dis­tri­bu­tion Award 2010 and the Road Trans­port (Long Dis­tance Op­er­a­tions) Award 2010. Both are un­der re­view by the Fair Work Com­mis­sion, and NatRoad made fi­nal sub­mis­sions in a case where the Trans­port Work­ers Union ( TWU) is seek­ing ma­jor changes.

NatRoad rep­re­sented mem­bers in opposing pro­posed changes to the trans­port mod­ern awards be­cause they are un­nec­es­sary and would add costs with­out pro­vid­ing any ben­e­fits to the in­dus­try.

NatRoad re­mains crit­i­cal of reg­u­la­tory changes that im­pose ad­di­tional costs on mem­bers yet fail to bring about any pro­duc­tiv­ity gains or any real safety gains. The road trans­port in­dus­try is al­ready highly reg­u­lated and new red tape adds to the reg­u­la­tory bur­den.

The Fair Work Com­mis­sion is set to hand down a de­ter­mi­na­tion around June to July this year.

MAN­DATED RATES

Dur­ing Fe­bru­ary and March, NatRoad also ap­peared in the NSW In­dus­trial Re­la­tions Com­mis­sion ( IRC) as part of the process to for­mally up­date the Gen­eral Car­ri­ers Con­tract De­ter­mi­na­tion ( GCCD).

NatRoad con­tin­ued its op­po­si­tion to du­pli­ca­tion, con­fu­sion and con­trol of freight rates for owner- driv­ers.

We know from re­cent ex­pe­ri­ence how im­prac­ti­cal and de­struc­tive ap­ply­ing man­dated rates for owner- driv­ers can be. In­ter­fer­ing with the mar­ket and forc­ing set rates can po­ten­tially jeop­ar­dise the vi­a­bil­ity of the truck­ing in­dus­try, dis­count­ing is­sues such as sea­son­al­ity as it does.

Af­ter more than three years of in­tense de­bate and con­cil­i­a­tion, the IRC ap­proved a mod­ernised ver­sion of the GCCD.

The orig­i­nal GCCD had been in place in NSW since 1984 and was a very dated de­ter­mi­na­tion. It was cum­ber­some and to­tally out of step with mod­ern in­dus­trial prac­tice. An in­terim de­ter­mi­na­tion, made in April last year, was the first step in a long- over­due mod­erni­sa­tion process that was fi­nally com­pleted. This step is the next best thing to the abo­li­tion of the GCCD.

Most im­por­tantly, the TWU’s pro­posed ex­pan­sion of cov­er­age of the GCCD to in­clude all of New South Wales was de­nied.

NatRoad main­tains its long- held stance that owner- driv­ers should not be treated like em­ploy­ees but should be free to set their own com­pet­i­tive rates in ac­cor­dance with mar­ket forces. On NatRoad’s in­sis­tence, the NSW in­dus­trial re­la­tions min­is­ter in­ter­vened in pro­ceed­ings, help­ing to en­sure the new de­ter­mi­na­tion was the best it could be in the cir­cum­stances.

VI­A­BIL­ITY THREAT­ENED

The same sub­ject is be­ing con­sid­ered in Vic­to­ria. NatRoad is call­ing on the Vic­to­rian gov­ern­ment to be open and trans­par­ent about the cur­rent re­view of owner- driv­ers and forestry con­trac­tor laws.

It is nearly two months since the date for sub­mis­sions closed and in­dus­try is yet to hear any up­date or progress re­port.

NatRoad and its mem­bers would be dis­ap­pointed if the gov­ern­ment is ac­tively con­sid­er­ing changes to the law with­out due and proper con­sul­ta­tion, es­pe­cially changes that po­ten­tially threaten the vi­a­bil­ity of owner- driver truck­ing busi­nesses.

As the Vic­to­rian shadow in­dus­trial re­la­tions min­is­ter Robert Clark said re­cently: “There is wide­spread con­cern in the in­dus­try that this re­view is sim­ply a sham to ar­rive at a pre­de­ter­mined out­come of at­tempt­ing to im­pose Road Safety Re­mu­ner­a­tion Tri­bunal ( RSRT)- type laws on owner- driv­ers in Vic­to­ria”.

NatRoad main­tains that set­ting rates is coun­ter­pro­duc­tive for busi­nesses and mem­bers would op­pose a re­peat of the tur­moil brought about by the RSRT pay or­der.

In ad­di­tion to keep­ing ex­tremely busy with in­dus­trial re­la­tions, NatRoad is rolling out a se­ries of re­gional truck­ing sum­mits.

The Na­tional Heavy Ve­hi­cle Reg­u­la­tor ( NHVR) is part­ner­ing with NatRoad to de­liver tar­geted in­for­ma­tion ses­sions about the Chain of Re­spon­si­bil­ity changes.

The tran­si­tion to na­tional har­mon­i­sa­tion will be chal­leng­ing – as we will be asked to do things dif­fer­ently – but NatRoad re­mains a busi­ness part­ner that mem­bers can rely on.

To reg­is­ter for a free re­gional truck­ing sum­mit visit the web­site www. natroad. com. au and pick the lo­ca­tion clos­est to you.

So in NatRoad’s 70th year, it seems only fit­ting that we cel­e­brate our proven suc­cess. NatRoad con­tin­ues to rep­re­sent mem­bers and truly stand up for the thou­sands of truck­ing busi­nesses that drive the Australian econ­omy ev­ery day.

“SET­TING RATES IS COUN­TER­PRO­DUC­TIVE FOR BUSI­NESSES”

WAR­REN CLARK

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