Major Wins for Truck and Bus Drivers in Award Review

Truck drivers and bus drivers are set to benefit from changes to pay and safety after a number of Transport Workers’ Union successes in a review of the transport awards.


The review has been continuing for four years and has involved drivers standing up to give witness statements and testimony at the Fair Work Commission.


These actions have been vital in winning the successes achieved but also in the Commission’s rejection of employer demands to erode the rights and conditions of drivers.


Some important highlights include:


Truck Relocation

The Commission agreed with the TWU that drivers who relocate trucks should be moved to higher rates under the transport award and off minimum wages. This is a disgraceful anomaly which has allowed employers such as Truck Moves to shut certain truck drivers out of the award system altogether. The Commission was unequivocal in its decision: “This situation is inconsistent with the requirement to ensure that modern awards, together with the National Employments Standards, provide a fair and relevant minimum safety net of terms and conditions.”


The TWU on August 30th held a meeting with employers groups following the decision. Truck Moves and other employers are now seeking to change the award itself to get around their obligations to pay these drivers what they are entitled. The TWU is planning a full campaign on this as we are adamant that a decision by the Commission to right the wrongs done to these drivers will not be diminished in any way.


Fatigue Management Plan

Employers will be now required to give drivers safe driving plans so they can see the expected timeframes for trips and can plan rest breaks.


Driver Max Bird who gave a witness statement at the Commission said: “Drivers are being pushed to work long hours and are not able to get enough rest. Employers are looking at the trips on paper and saying it looks ok but in reality the driver has to cheat in their work diary just to get the job done. At the end of the day if the drivers work diary meets their requirements then that covers them.  This decision allows drivers to see whether trip rates are fair and if deadlines are realistic.”


Meal Breaks

The TWU was also successful in fighting off employer attempts to stop truckie meal allowances which would have robbed drivers of over $77 per week. “We agree with the TWU that the Ai Group has not made out a case for what is effectively a removal of the meal allowance for certain employees,” the Commission said.


Higher Duties

Employers groups tried to stop drivers getting paid higher rates when they perform higher duties. The Commission rejected this application, saying: “There is no evidence to support the claim that the current higher duties clause fails to strike a fair and relevant balance between the needs of employers and employees.”


Part-Time Work For Long Distance Truck Drivers

Employer groups such as NatRoad tried to convince the Commission to introduce part-time work for long distance truck drivers. This might not be a bad provision for truckies coming up to retirement who want to start winding back the hours and spend more time with the family. That however is definitely not what these employers had in mind when they sought this change. All they had firmly in mind were dollars – and paying truckies less!


This they would do by engaging drivers for a minimum number of part-time hours and increasing it for their benefit – all the while paying them benefits such as superannuation, annual leave etc on their part-time hours.


The Commission saw this coming. “We accept the submission of the TWU that the provision proposed by the Ai Group would be vulnerable to abuse and could be used in a way which undermined the already limited minimum terms and conditions of the Long Distance Award.”


It added: “It can be readily seen that under the Ai Group’s proposed provision, an employer could be employed on a nominally part-time basis but actually required to perform full-time driving duties on the cents per kilometre rate. The driver would be disadvantaged because when the driver took leave entitlements he or she would be paid at only a pro-rated weekly minimum rate, not the full weekly minimum rate to which full-time drivers are entitled.

In a strongly worded statement which touched on the many problems at the heart of the transport industry, the Commission added: “This potential for abuse must be given significance because the long distance road transport industry is characterised by intense competition, commercial pressure from supply chains and a high degree of award non-compliance.”


As a result the Commission said part time work could only be introduced once adequate compensation was given to drivers when working extra hours.


Switching Between Awards

The TWU will compile more evidence to show the need for changes to stop employers flipping truck drivers onto different awards – just to pay them less. “We do see some merit in the TWU’s proposal to require that an employee who works temporarily under the Road Transport Award (for example having just completed a trip under the Long distance Award) should have the hours of work performed under the other award count towards ordinary hours of work under the Road Transport Award,” the Commission said.


Minimum Hours for Bus Drivers

Bus drivers had an important win against employers trying to cut their part-time hours. Currently the minimum number of hours a bus driver can be engaged for is 2 hours – but the Australian Public Transport Industrial Association asked the Fair Work Commission to go even lower than this. Bus drivers took this attack full on. Queensland bus driver Norm Murray, told the Commission that reducing hours beyond a two-hour minimum would mean the work will not be worthwhile for many. “To go below this is a joke. Many drivers travel long distances to get to work. They transfer children to and from school. They have responsible jobs and should be treated with respect,” he said.


The Commission agreed saying: “The minimum payment provision already provides for a very short minimum engagement, and any further reduction would likely render the provision a nullity and allow for exploitative employment arrangement to arise.”



  • Industry Groups in Attempt to Rip Off Drivers at Fair Work Commission

    September 01

    TWU MEDIA RELEASE, 15 August 2016
    The Transport Workers’ Union is opposing attempts by industry lobby groups to reduce wages for long distance truck drivers and bus drivers at the Fair Work Commission today.

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