SARTA slams TWU ‘facts’
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.”