Smoke and mirrors
Why is the government seeking advice from the unqualified instead of those behind the wheel?
YOU’D HAVE TO BE LIVING UNDER A ROCK not to know that the ‘Safe Rates’ debate has raised its much-maligned head once again. While the majority would rather see it disappear along with their dignity, the ‘staunch’ haven’t given up on educating the pitiful about what the industry, and this country as a whole, has the potential to gain from its success. Let’s start with that bit about the whole country prospering from a safe rate, or let’s say a rate increase.
Obviously (to most) it means more tax, and if there is one thing this country needs, it’s more tax dollars. Once upon a time a rate rise would mean an increase in the cost of living, but that’s not quite so true anymore.
How’s that, you ask? Well, years ago, most things we carted were made by Aussies, but nowadays the highest percentage of consumables arrive from China. So, the higher percentage of cost savings attributed to trucking continues to wear every on-cost we are exposed to.
These must now be forwarded on to those that generate the highest profits that were formally offset by our inability to justify our full cost recovery needs – the foreign manufacturers and importers.
Why should we sit back, wishing we could get a rate rise when the only way that’s going to happen is by us having the gumption and the collective bargaining power of an across-the-board approach to attaining a safe rate?
So what is a safe rate? The number one question being asked of the believers, and myself, as if to try and quell such talk, is ‘WTF is a safe rate?’
Well, how long is a piece of string? What came first, the chicken or the egg? Time! Time came first! You see, time is the one true measure, the one constant, by which to equate a rate. No two loads are the same, weight wise, distance wise, temperature wise, condition wise or freight-handling wise. The only thing every load has in common is time. And even that varies.
The only way forward is changing the way in which we charge by changing the formula that we have foolhardily always made the mistake of using to rip ourselves off with. Charging by the tonne is fine, so long as we multiply that figure by the time it takes.
Charging by the pallet space is fine, as long as we multiply that figure by the time it takes, because it is the only way to effectively achieve the correct base cost for every freight movement going forward.
For a long time we’ve been accepting a rate that is deemed ‘the going rate’ or ‘the industry standard rate’, or that other chestnut, ‘the agreed rate’ (agreed to by whom?). I’m yet to meet anyone who will admit that they sat down and agreed to accept a rate that was less than a rate that would fully cover the cost of getting the freight to its destination. That ‘rate’ leaves no meat on the bone where a reasonable profit might be available after all the costs associated with moving someone else’s livelihood to the end user was satisfied.
A safe rate is one that pays for every part of the journey, every part of the freight handling, and they can afford to pay all of their drivers the full Federal Award as a minimum. And be honest to yourself, anyone that advocates that you cannot and should not pursue full cost recovery, aka a safe rate, is not your friend. They should be made aware of how they are effectively reducing your ability to provide for your family.
SAME USELESS RESULT
Again, we see transport associations and other transport pests wanting to be seen by the government as being keen to consult with and ask for help from mere truck drivers, by assisting them and the government to further the management of trucks, fatigue, higher vehicle mass limits and truck driver behaviour.
When are they going to really get serious instead of using smoke and mirrors? Who are they approaching? Anyone you know? Probably not! Have they even got their wishlist sorted? What have they overlooked?
We see no mention of places to pull over and park safely. No mention of an industry standard sleeping compartment. No new laws in regards to not using day cabs when the need to use a work diary comes into play. Or running constant schedules whereby there is absolutely no window of opportunity to effectively manage fatigue (aka sleep).
Unfortunately, the sad reality is the people in government, who say they seek help in making changes that will create a safer environment for truck drivers and the general motoring public, take the same approach time after time. They eagerly take the jaded advice from those with an economic interest in the outcome, not those with a mortal interest in the final outcome. They fail to fully understand that they must speak to the monkey, not the organ grinder.
The government is fooled into taking advice from someone who has never driven a truck in an unforgiving, hostile, environmentally challenging location, while being physically and mentally exhausted, and can’t find a parking bay, or a place to lie down or find a toilet.
That ‘someone’ has never had the problem of struggling to see where the centre line is, or the fog line should be, while being confronted by another driver who seems intent on blinding you with more LED lights than a former oil refinery. These so-called advisors aren’t suitably qualified to be tasked with helping find a solution to the plight of the freight masters that actually deliver everything Australians need.
Why would an association put forward someone who, unlike many others, hasn’t driven a truck interstate for the better part of the last 10 years or more? There are so many brilliant female truck drivers who would clearly articulate the plight of women truck drivers all over Australia. Women like Tracey Rehe, Sonja, Christine and Brandy, just to name a few. They’re not hard to find, and they are well placed to answer any void in the search for the information sought.
Show the industry just how serious you are, and it will hand you the solution.
By the time you get to read this, ‘Operation Austrans’ may still be in full flight, or only just finishing up. Either way, your opinion and/or experiences when dealing with this bully boy harassment is being asked for here and now. So please, email anything you’d like to discuss to the email address below so it can be collated and discussed.
“They must speak to the monkey, not the organ grinder.”