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Fighting for our Owner-Driver members

September 21, 2016

Photo courtesy of The Herald-Sun.

The Victorian Government yesterday announced that they expect to have 37 level crossings fully-removed, or removal works underway, by 2018.

They also called for Expressions of Interest for two new major packages of level crossing removals – with funds sourced from the $9 billion long-term lease of the Port of Melbourne – that will release 11 more crossings to market.

The TWU (Vic/Tas Branch) is currently lobbying government for adequate rates and conditions to be paid to tip-truck drivers engaged by builders and plant hirers on Victorian Government projects, particularly level-crossing upgrades and road works.

The intention is to secure minimum safe rates of pay for owner-drivers and tipper-driver members. Let everyone in the industry know that WE ARE STRONGER TOGETHERand NOW IS THE TIME FOR THOSE TIPPER-DRIVERS WHO HAVE NOT JOINED THE TWU TO DO SO.

These members live a precarious life. They are engaged on a day-to-day basis with no security or certainty as to their work conditions and rate of pay and, we understand their daily rate of pay (based either on hours worked or tonnage) is sometimes undercut by Plant Hirers.

Don’t believe us? Ask the blokes at the coal face who are finding it hard to maintain trucks and meet operating costs. We are also concerned that there are members, subbies and new players to the industry out there buying brand new equipment – trucks, excavators, backhoes and trailers – based on the amount of government work available today, not what might be around in a few years. Some guys at the moment seem willing to cut a few corners – literally and metaphorically – to ensure they get a day’s pay. It is no way to grow a business.

The uncertainty listed above, along with the fact that we know tip-truck drivers are more likely to be involved in fatal accidents than other drivers – mainly due to fatigue, is why the Union recently called on the government to review and strengthen the Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Act 2005 (Vic).

As it currently sits, the Act contains no penalty provisions or prosecution rights against hirers for unconscionable conduct or bringing down rates to owner-drivers which are or have the potential to be unsafe. The Union has asked that a Code of Practice be developed for the engagement of owner-drivers in the excavation industry, covering areas such as no-start-jobs, minimum engagement and hourly-hire.

Join the campaign for safe rates and safer roads, http://saferates.org.au/

The two new level-crossing packages are the North-Western package and the Western package.
As part of the North-Western Package, Camp Road in Campbellfield and Buckley Street in Essendon will be fast-tracked. Work will start next year and is scheduled to finish by 2019.

The North-Western package also includes the removal of level crossings at Glenroy Road in Glenroy, Bell Street in Coburg, and Moreland Road in Brunswick.

Construction of the level crossing removal at Kororoit Creek Road in Williamstown North and the partial duplication of the Altona Loop will also begin next year, as part of the Western Package of crossing removals.

The Western package also includes the removal of crossings at Abbotts Road in Dandenong South, Aviation Road in Laverton, Ferguson Street in Williamstown, and Cherry and Werribee Streets in Werribee.

For more information about the level crossing removal project, fully funded by the lease of the Port, visit www.levelcrossings.vic.gov.au.

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