The National Road Freighters Association and the Transport Workers’ Union have signed a memorandum of understanding to fight for an industry that is safe and sustainable.
The MoU recognises that “economic and contractual practices are placing unsustainable pressures on transport operators and workers and contributing to thousands of transport operators going bankrupt not to mention the injuries and deaths of thousands of transport workers and users every year”.
It adds: “The Australian Government and existing regulatory models have failed to respond to this crisis and the need for regulatory intervention has never been stronger.”
The MoU will allow both organisations to work together on issues of interest but they will remain independent, continuing to represent the interests of their members and raise issues particularly pertinent to their membership.
TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine and NFRA President Gordon MacKinlay said the agreement to co-operate was based on a lack of action on the difficulties drivers and operators face in getting a fair rate to keep them safe and their businesses sustainable.
“For far too long our industry has had to endure a dog-eat-dog way of doing business where the all the pressure of compliance is pushed right down to the driver, subcontractor and operator at the bottom and most of the profit goes to the major retailers and manufacturers at the top which contract out transport work at continually lower rates. This is neither safe nor sustainable and the TWU is happy to join forces with the NRFA to change this,” Kaine said.
“Transport businesses want to be paid what we are worth, not what people feel like paying us. The financial pressure on our trucking companies is real and is making it very difficult for businesses to survive in a safe and long-term way. We want to see change and we want standards to be lifted. Working with the TWU means co-operating on issues that matter to us and using our collective voices to tell those in positions of power that now is the time for reform,” MacKinlay said.
The MoU has as its core principles:
1. Universal application of binding, enforceable and safe and sustainable rates
2. Independent tribunal to determine and enforce binding standards in conjunction with industry stakeholders
3. Client accountability throughout transport supply chains
4. Transport workers and transport operators given opportunity to contribute to a collective voice
5. Enforcement mechanisms to ensure standards are effectively realised
6. Adequate training and education through an industry scheme and fund
The TWU and the NRFA have already formed a unified position on the ACCC attack on an owner driver, threatened with jail for writing an opinion article about the problem of low rates. Both organisations wrote a joint letter to the ACCC outlining the problems with low rates and requesting a response on the regulator’s over-reach. The ACCC has failed to provide an adequate response to questions.