Autocare drivers in Queensland and Victoria are parking up and walking off the job to attend urgent stop work meetings after attempts to slash their pay to $1.65 per kilometre, as the Transport Workers Union urges major car brands to stop using the car carrying service until proper pay is secured.
More than 100 drivers for Autocare have stopped work at Port of Brisbane and in Melbourne, after trying to negotiate new rates with the company for nine months.
Despite the current rate of $1.70 per kilometre, which does not meet the costs of their work and has forced the owner drivers who transport new and imported cars across the country to squeeze margins, Autocare has proposed to reduce rates further to $1.65.
Drivers are asking for $1.94/km in order to recover costs and pay wages. Compounding margin stress are surging fuel costs, with the current levy not meeting the increased cost of fuel. Drivers are seeking a fixed rate in line with the interstate drivers of the company who currently receive $1.20/L.
Mike McNess, branch secretary, TWU Victoria/Tasmania branch, and Jared Abbott, director of organising for the TWU Queensland branch, said the paltry offer was making Australia’s deadliest industry more dangerous and brands should act to ensure a safe and sustainable supply chain.
“TWU is calling on Toyota, Mitsubishi, Havel and Great Wall to stop using Autocare until it properly pays drivers in this vital link of the supply chain,” said Mr McNess and Mr Abbott. “A supply chain can’t sustainably work if drivers make more money parking up than they do delivering the goods.
“Trucking is Australia’s deadliest industry, with on average 180 deaths a year, because wealthy clients at the top of supply chains are financially squeezing transport contracts.
“As margins continue to shrink, or disappear altogether, drivers are pushed to new, dangerous extremes. Autocare is making an already dangerous industry deadly with its unsafe offer, which will make it impossible for drivers to earn a proper living.
“Autocare’s insulting offer highlights why Australia needs a proper body that delivers fair, sustainable rates to drivers and will ultimately make our roads safer.”
The dispute comes as the Federal Government continues to ignore the findings of a Senate Inquiry last year which recommended the Federal Government establish an independent tribunal with the power to ensure all owner drivers and transport operators are able to cover their costs.
“The Turnbull government abolished the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal which had the power to ensure cost recovery for owner drivers and small transport operators, and replaced it with nothing. Since it was scrapped more than 1043 people have died in truck-related accidents across the country.”
“We need to legislate Safe Rates across Australia so that all transport workers, whether they’re owner drivers or working in the gig economy, can get a proper rate of pay that secures them a living, not enough to just scrape by.”