The fee hikes are causing financial problems for transport operators at the ports which will have an impact on safety, said TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine.
“Drivers and transport operators have been voicing concerns since these fee hikes began. Now the ACCC has backed their concerns and spoken about the impact they are having.
Governments need to step in and regulate this industry or risk safety at the ports,” Kaine said.
The road safety watchdog torn down in April 2016 was investigating safety in transport at the ports and was due to release findings. Evidence was being presented to show how a financial squeeze from the top was resulting in transport operators and drivers under pressure to cut safety corners.
“We had in place a watchdog which was beginning the process of regulating the top of the supply chain at the ports to ensure safety is the number one priority. The watchdog was hearing from port drivers who were giving evidence about delays, lack of training, badly maintained vehicles and poor rates which do not reflect the time or cost required to carrying out work. The Federal Government tore down this body and now we have the unfettered greed of stevedores unleased on the transport industry. This is exactly what happens when regulatory gaps are left to fester. The ACCC report shows stevedores are still highly profitable, making $60 million profit with revenues up 6.8% to $1.3 billion. This industry must end its squeeze on transport,” Kaine added.
“We welcome the Victorian government’s review into pricing and charges at the ports. We urge the review to be carried out with the utmost urgency and for other state governments to follow suit,” Kaine said.
The ACCC report refers to the lack of choice for transport operators at the ports. “Transport operators have no ability to choose a stevedore that has lower infrastructure charges.” It adds: “There is an incentive for stevedores to increase infrastructure charges.”