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,
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.
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.
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”