The application is being made as businesses struggle to maintain their fleets in good working order and pay their drivers safe and fair rates because of delays in payments of up to four months.
“This is about achieving a safe and sustainable industry. Transport operators are struggling because billion-dollar companies are withholding payment. It is common for payment to be withheld for 120 days but it can be as outrageously as long as 220 days. This is corporate bullying at its worst and the Federal Government has failed to act. Our application today seeks to put a stop to this,” said TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon.
A 30-day payment Order was made by the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal in 2014 to ensure owner drivers were paid by transport companies which hire them within 30 days. This application seeks to extend this Order to cover transport operators themselves.
The application follows a motion in the Senate by Labor Senator Glenn Sterle and Nationals Senator John Williams for transport operators to be paid within 30 days.
The TWU is also calling on transport operators to stand with drivers to ensure an Order by the tribunal setting safe minimum rates for drivers and requiring them to be paid for all their work is enforced. The Order, handed down last December and which comes into effect on April 4th, states major retailers must be held to account for the rates with their supply chains.
“Both this Order and the application we made today are about one thing: holding wealthy companies at the top to account for what is going on in the transport sector. It is about making sure they pay companies on time and that their contracts allow for their goods to be delivered safely. Each year 330 people die in trucking crashes. If we want to change our industry we have to stand up to those dragging it down,” Sheldon said.
A financial link of $7 million exists between major retailer Wesfarmers, which owns supermarket giant Coles, and the Liberal National Party. A link of $5.3 million exists between Wesfarmers and the Liberal Party, in the form of dividends drawn down from Wesfarmers shares owned by the Cormack Foundation, an associated entity of the Liberal Party. A further $1.7 million in political donations was given by Wesfarmers and Coles to the Liberal and National parties.
“This financial link exposes why the Government is not stepping in to address the financial pressures that transport operators and drivers are under. At the very least, the Liberal Party has a stake in ensuring Wesfarmers turn a large profit each year since they benefit from their shares. But at worst it proves that money can buy you political influence,” said Sheldon.