Lives and livelihoods have been ruined because of gaps in legislation which have allowed companies to massively reduce rates for owner drivers, as exposed by ABC 7.30 last night.
“The Federal Government has failed a hard-working community by refusing to regulate the terms and conditions which these drivers operate under. They have been abandoned by a Government which tore down an independent tribunal which was aiming to fix these regulatory gaps while investigating the risks to safety on the roads. Malcolm Turnbull and Michaelia Cash must be held accountable for this,” said TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon.
The ABC report showed bread manufacturer Tip Top made cuts of $1000 a week to owner driver rates, destroying some of their businesses and leaving others struggling. Tip Top is a subsidiary of Associated British Products, which is expected this week to report over $2 billion in profit, a jump of 25% jump from last year.
The plight of the Tip Top drivers shows the pressure many owner drivers face given the lack of rules governing their entitlements and protections. Drivers warn the difficulties they face to keep their trucks on the road is compromising safety. “I’m afraid that someone is going to die,” one driver told the ABC.
“The NSW Industrial Relations system provides protections to some owner drivers only, while others are left to the savagery of price-gouging clients. We will continue to fight for these drivers and are seeking a meeting with the NSW Treasurer to have a minor section of the law amended so that bread delivery drivers can have minimum protections and a regulatory body to turn to. It is clear that there is a need for a federal body which can provide the necessary regulatory protections to drivers throughout Australia,” said TWU NSW Secretary Richard Olsen.
The Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal provided owner drivers across Australia with protections such as 30-day guaranteed payments and minimum rates paid for all the work they carried out. In April 2016 the Federal Government tore down the tribunal. Since then deaths in truck crashes have increased by 7% while more than one out of every three workplace deaths involves a transport workers.
“The Federal Government sided with major businesses at the top the transport supply chain over the small businesses at the bottom. They have stood by and allowed these wealthy clients to financially squeeze owner drivers and cause the destruction of families and communities through deaths on our roads,” Sheldon added.