The charge by the TWU comes as submissions are due today at the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal on a proposal made on behalf of owner drivers for the implementation of safe minimum rates.
Transport operators which gave evidence at the weekend testified to being taken by surprise by the Order last December and to not having done calculations on what the rates would mean for their business.
“NatRoad has done its members a gross disservice by failing during two years of hearings and consultations on the Order to inform them about its impact or seek their input. A draft Order was released in August and even then NatRoad failed to educate its members. Since the final Order has come out it has run a scare campaign frightening people and gathering support in opposition to the Tribunal itself. This Order has the power to hold major retailers and manufacturers at the top of the transport supply chain to account over low cost contracts. NatRoad should be supporting it on behalf of its members,” said TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon.
The TWU submission today will support an earlier application for the Order to stick to its April 4th start date and for the new safe minimum rates to be phased in from October 1st. The application has the backing of other major players in the transport industry.
The TWU also wants:
· Full transparency of client contracts to ensure contracts allow for safe minimum rates
· Changes to the Order to take into account split loads and return loads for drivers
· Payment by clients to transport operators within 30 days of work completed
Roy Valentine an owner driver from South Australia who attended the weekend hearings said some weeks were difficult in meeting payments to maintain his truck and support his family. “I’m driving a 14 year old truck and I’d like to upgrade it but I’m battling to maintain the one I’ve got. We need these rates, they’re not unreasonable.”
Sheldon called on NatRoad to come clean to its members and explain why it intentionally kept them in the dark about the Order. “Let us hear why NatRoad refused to communicate with its members. I would also like to know why they have been running a campaign against the one body which can hold wealthy clients to account which financially squeeze their members with low cost contracts. It is clear that instead of informing its members NatRoad has been playing industry politics and running a party political agenda. They should consider a name change to RatRoad,” he said.