TWU

All For Nothing

Release date: 13/07/2016

Owner Driver, June 2016

The Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal’s demise has left some gloating, and others knowing that their hope of increased rates is more than likely gone forever. The Interstater writes

It's the gift that just keeps on giving, even after it has been taken away. The Road Safety Renumeration Tribunal (RSRT) has been culled,
but it’s still uppermost in people’s thoughts as if it is still functioning.

As predicted, the real facts and data are coming out as to what was lost and what was gained.

Nothing was gained ... nothing at all, mainly because nothing was given in its place. Not even a veiled promise from Turnbull or Cash.

Lazarus didn’t have a back-up plan, neither did the Libs. But much was lost.

All of the protections included
in the first and second Road Safety Remuneration Orders (RSRO)
were scrapped when the RSRT was abolished. And there doesn’t seem to be anything looking good through the windscreen either.

Not surprising that so many are coming out now to condemn those who condemned it, when it is too late now to stand up and be counted.

The noisiest wheel gets the most attention, so those who could see the benefits of the RSRT doing the job long-term should have spoken up at the time. Those who thought it was their time in the sun seem to now

be in hibernation due to so many disgruntled supporters of the RSRT being not too friendly to the minority that stuffed up a good thing.

How the wheels turn. Wishing in one hand and shitting in the other has returned the same results. So why anyone would be surprised is a surprise in itself. If we keep doing the same thing, why would we ever expect a different outcome?

Life will continue, and only time will tell if Turnbull and Cash will
be able to spoil the dreams of truck drivers and owner-drivers further once the Libs bring back WorkChoices (by another name perhaps). The damage that will do to our industry may just be the last nail in the coffin for any hope of a rate rise.

ASSOCIATIONS’ END GAME

To think that all those who oppose the RSRT were the very people who have stood in the path of any rate rise for decades is amazing. Credit must go to where it’s due. They did the job on all these owner-drivers like we’ve never witnessed before.

The Ai Group should take a bow. They made so many of the other trucking associations look like amateurs. Seeing Ai Group’s CEO Innes Willox on Q&A carve up a disadvantaged part pensioner was an insight as to the clout his group has. Unfortunately, trucking didn’t stand a chance.

NatRoad were like the Jack Russells springing around the fight, trying to get a look in, but even

they were outclassed by a much tougher act. The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) stood firm and circled like sharks. SARTA? Well, Shearer did his best.

But the real surprise was
the inclusion of the late, great Independent Contractors Australia (ICA) coming in to attack. These johnny-come-lately Kamakazis came over the horizon like a stealth bomber. Who the flack are they, you might ask?

ICA is a clever bunch that has been created to do, well, nothing really.

Their claim to self-promoted fame is to gather membership from anyone and everyone that can fit under the banner of an ‘independent’ (think one man band) and someone who ‘contracts’ themselves out to any bidder foolish enough to part with some hard-earned cash.

The ICA is supposed to be trying
to fund an action against the RSRT (which doesn’t exist anymore) for the damages it did to, err, how many ICA members? It wants to flex its muscle to show the trucking industry just how handy they are at doing something for the members they had hoped to gain in the depths of their misery at the hands of the ‘evil’ RSRT.

From all reports, no-one seems to be too keen to not only join the ranks of ICA; it’s hard to find anyone prepared to admit they got roped into throwing dead money their way.

FINDINGS IGNORED

That old chestnut that remuneration has no part to play in the safety of road transport continued to raise its ugly lying head nonstop over the past six months. It has been frightening to see just how many were starting to get sucked into believing the lie.

There is a saying, allegedly used by a former dictator, that if you repeat a lie often enough people will eventually believe it. That now seems

to have a great deal of merit. It’s certainly the mainstay of the mindset in use by NatRoad and the ATA. Keep saying safety and rates have no collation and, fingers crossed, truck owners and drivers will fall for it.

To ignore the findings of Professor Michael Quinlan, the Hon. Lance Wright QC, and every other study undertaken all over the globe is not unlike what has gone down before in history’s dark past.

When company drivers are not being paid the full federal award, there is little hope of being able to reduce the amount of time spent away from home, and on the highway.

But if every interstate driver was paid the award, there would be a mass exodus of drivers who would be relinquishing the Friday night changeover because the extra money being paid at the award rate would by far outweigh the loss of the final night’s work for the week.

It would also give many new drivers one night a week, without the usual pressure of a weekday run, to hone the necessary skills to land a full-time job driving interstate sooner thanks to the added experience gathered.

Put simply, if we currently have drivers being paid $200 a night doing a changeover, and they do five changeovers a week, they will take home $1000 for the week. But if they are paid $250 per night, and only do four changeovers per week, they will still take home $1000.

As a consequence, they will be 25 per cent safer each week due to being less likely to have a truck accident because they are being paid 25 per cent more.

When you factor in that back in
the ’70s and ’80s we only did two round trips per week and only carted 20 pallets per load, now that we are carting 34 pallets per leg, or 64 pallets per round trip, we should be on at least $350 per night. We cart almost twice as much freight as we did when we only had semis, yet the take home pay is around the same as it was in the ’80s and "90s.

So why owner-drivers can’t get a rate rise shouldn’t be too much of an ask.

SUICIDE RATES

There can’t be any debate about the suicide rate of truck drivers in this country, but it is a problem that has never been given any extra funding
or had any more light shone on it than other industries over the past 40 years.

So it is perplexing to see that Malcolm Turnbull is in talks with the Opposition about making more assistance available to dairy farmers due to the very harsh impact milk prices are having on them.

Now, no-one is suggesting that it isn’t a good or a very necessary thing to do. But he can’t pretend not to know that the trucking industry is, and has been for a very long time, in an equal if not worse situation for a lot longer.

However, no assistance has been mooted for trucking at all, over and above what Lifeline has available.

Even the industry’s own TransHelp hasn’t seen the Federal Government financial support necessary and long overdue that it requires to continue dealing with the deaths, accidents and, sadly, the suicides it has to deal with.

Surely some of that $1.5 million being made available for counselling could be made available to the trucking industry by way of support for TransHelp.

Article originally published in Owner Driver

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