SARTA slams TWU ‘facts’

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THE LAT­EST war of words be­tween the Trans­port Work­ers Union (TWU) and South Aus­tralian Road Trans­port As­so­ci­a­tion (SARTA) has erupted af­ter the re­lease of a 2014 email from SARTA’s ex­ec­u­tive Steve Shearer to the TWU and re­leased by its South Aus­tralia/ North­ern Ter­ri­tory branch.

Af­ter­wards, Shearer made com­par­isons be­tween the TWU and US Pres­i­dent Trump. “Even Don­ald Trump has a closer affin­ity to the facts and the truth,” he says.

Dated Septem­ber 25, the SARTA email re­ferred to a dis­cus­sion the pre­vi­ous day be­tween Shearer and the TWU re­gard­ing safety. The email says that, re­gard­ing the “fourth head­ing (Safe Rates)”, it agreed that “in­ad­e­quate rates if ac­cepted by an op­er­a­tor can lead to safety is­sues due to cor­ner cut­ting in var­i­ous ways”.

How­ever, the email says com­ments made dur­ing the dis­cus­sion in­cluded SARTA re­main­ing of the view that “the great­est chal­lenge for and flaw in the Safe Rates con­cept is the in­evitable in­ad­e­quacy of en­force­ment, which will lead to good op­er­a­tors com­ply­ing and be­ing un­fairly com­peted with by cheats who don’t com­ply and who pay or ac­cept lower rates.

“SARTA does not be­lieve that the RSRT cur­rent con­cept is ca­pa­ble of re­solv­ing this prob­lem be­cause the set­ting of ef­fec­tive rates is prob­lem­atic in that they would have to ac­com­mo­date all the le­git­i­mate and safe op­er­a­tions and op­tions (in­clud­ing the gen­uine and re­spon­si­ble com­pet­i­tive edge that many op­er­a­tors have in cer­tain cir­cum­stances – thus any set rate would have to al­low such rates and not be set at a higher rate that pre­cludes safe pro­duc­tiv­ity).

“Fur­ther, af­ter dis­cussing this at length yet again the SARTA Board agreed that the con­cept of set­ting a dol­lar fig­ure rate or set of rates will in­evitably fail and pro­duce coun­ter­pro­duc­tive out­comes.”

The email’s re­lease fol­lows SARTA’s ques­tion­ing of fed­eral spend­ing pri­or­i­ties, with cash freed up from the demise of the Road Safety Re­mu­ner­a­tion Tri­bunal (RSRT) seen as less fo­cused on road safety than it could be. The union cast the email as high­light­ing a dis­con­nect be­tween SARTA’s stated con­cerns and op­po­si­tion to the RSRT.

“What we need is for the gov­ern­ment to fund an in­de­pen­dent body which can in­ves­ti­gate th­ese pres­sures and hold th­ese wealthy clients to ac­count for the pres­sure in trans­port that is killing peo­ple,” TWU SA/ NT branch sec­re­tary Ian Smith says. “We con­cur with SARTA that the gov­ern­ment is frit­ter­ing away money on plans which will not de­liver good safety out­comes.

“The TWU is used to SARTA do­ing U-turns af­ter its ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Steve Shearer pre­vi­ously sup­ported the premise be­hind Safe Rates but then cam­paigned against it.”

Shearer, how­ever says the TWU has be­come a sad laugh­ing stock “with its fake news and al­ter­na­tive facts as it clings des­per­ately to fa­tally flawed and failed con­cept of so-called and mis­named ‘Safe Rates’.”

Shearer says it’s a pa­thetic at­tempt to have a go at SARTA and to flog their dead safe rates don­key even harder.

“I hope peo­ple do go and read that email be­cause the se­lec­tive quote the TWU has made is sand­wiched be­tween para­graphs that very clearly state that we do not sup­port Safe Rates … and we never have.”

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