The charge comes as hearings opened this morning on a NatRoad-speared push to delay the start of a new rates system for drivers.
NatRoad refused to back a TWU application before the road safety watchdog to force retailers and manufacturers to pay for transport jobs within 30 days. The move would address many problems transport companies face such as inability to properly maintain their fleets because of late payments of four months and more.
At the same time NatRoad is continuing to oppose the system of safe minimum rates for truck drivers which will address a high death toll from truck crashes and the inability of many drivers to make a living wage.
“NatRoad have failed to defend the interests of those they say they represent at every turn. They have left transport companies to the savage instincts of retailers and manufacturers as they wait sometimes up to 220 days for payment. They have spread lies about the Safe Rates Order which would make the job of owner drivers safer and more sustainable. NatRoad are a disgrace to our industry,” said TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon.
“Their failure to address the crisis in trucking leads to a high death toll in truck crashes, because of the lack of maintenance of fleets and fatigue and stress among drivers pushed to speed and drive long hours. So far this month over 20 people have been killed. Meanwhile the wealthy retailers and manufacturers reap billions of dollars in profit from the backs of squeezed transport companies and drivers,” Sheldon added.
NatRoad is also trying to decrease wages and conditions for employee drivers in a review of award rates and allowances.
“NatRoad are spreading false information telling owner drivers they will lose their jobs if the Order for them to be paid safe rates comes into effect. Yet they are the same groups representing the employers who will supposedly sack them. They are allowing owner drivers and their families to take the hit on wages and choosing not to stand up to wealthy retailers and manufacturers,” said Sheldon.
“NatRoad for the past 18 months in the award review have been trying to cut payment to these low paid drivers. It is clear their overall aim is to drive wages down across transport. That is why they are so opposed to the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal,” he added.
In the award review covering employee drivers NatRoad have argued for:
- Changes to when paid meal break allowances kick in for drivers who work beyond their normal shift hours.
- The introduction of part-time work. Drivers could work full time hours but only get paid annual leave, sick leave and other entitlements based on their part time guaranteed hours.
- Changes so that employers would not pay superannuation for rostered days off
- Changes to the definition of loading and unloading to limit what they have to pay for when drivers are on the job.
- Reduce the agreed distance and time it takes to travel between cities – to pay drivers less.
Sheldon added: “NatRoad have shown their hands too many times: they are simply on a money grab. I call on drivers to stand together and take action against this attack on their livelihoods.”
Major retailers Coles has consistently opposed the Tribunal and has the backing of the Federal Government which also opposed it. A financial link of $7 million exists between Coles/Wesfarmers and the Liberal National Party in the form of political donations and dividends from lucrative shares.
“The ultimate irony is that NatRoad tried to get the hearings held off because they didn’t want to work this Easter weekend. At the same time transport drivers keep Australia running this entire weekend,” Sheldon said.