The long haul: road safety and rates of pay


Just as lengthy journeys define the work of Australia’s road transport drivers, so too has the ‘long haul’ become an appropriate metaphor for the debate concerning their rates of pay.

Ai Group has been heavily involved on behalf of members as far back as 2010, when the then Government issued its Safe Rates, Safe Roads Directions Paper. The ‘safe rates’ concept centres around the proposition that paying road transport industry drivers differently and at higher rates of pay will lead to higher levels of safety – a deeply flawed contention that we reject.

We have resisted the application of this concept across the vast and divergent road transport and distribution industry ever since, opposing from the outset the July 2012 establishment of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT).

Importantly, the RSRT can make orders and decisions impacting not only road transport drivers and their employers, but also hirers of contractor drivers and any participants in the supply chain in relation to road transport drivers. For a significant proportion of Ai Group members, that means you.

The Federal-Government initiated an urgent review of the Road Safety Remuneration System in late 2013, amid Ai Group’s determined arguments that the system should be disbanded in favour of pursuing other initiatives more likely to improve road safety. However the outcome of the review has still not been released.

Nonetheless, the RSRT has remained busy, and Ai Group members should be aware that it is currently in the throes of considering the potential content of a draft Road Safety Remuneration Order (RSRO) which will likely deal with rates of remuneration for contractor drivers working in the supermarket supply chain or the long distance sector.

This has arisen from a report it published last year after a series of conferences relating to the setting of rates, together with a research project it commissioned KPMG to conduct in order to provide a cost model with associated minimum payments for contractor drivers.

Inevitably, the road will be long, but the next pit-stop in the consultation process will be June 29, when any written submissions on the KPMG and RSRT reports must be received. Ai Group is preparing a submission on behalf of our members, and we would urge all affected parties to examine the proposals and contact us with your insights and concerns.

Replies to the initial round of submissions will then be due on July 27. We will be making every effort to keep members informed throughout the process.

If you want to know more or wish to contribute to our submission to the RSRT, please contact Ai Group’s National Advocate & Principal Advisor – Workplace Relations, Brent Ferguson.

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Brent Ferguson
As National Advocate for Ai Group, Brent regularly represents the interests of industry in major cases before the Fair Work Commission and Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal. Also acting as Special Counsel of Ai Group Workplace Lawyers (Sydney), Brent is a key industrial relations strategist in the transport and manufacturing sectors. He advises and represents some of Australia’s largest transport and manufacturing employers in relation to a broad range of workplace relations issues, including industrial disputes and enterprise bargaining.

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