Many of the contracts entered into by trucking companies are unfair and do not, necessarily, meet all legal requirements. The Australian Trucking Association has said it plans to develop guidance for trucking operators and their customers to help ensure fairer and legal contracts.
According to the ATA, the decision is a response to the lengthening payment terms faced by many trucking businesses, as well as concerns many smaller trucking businesses feel they lack the power to negotiate balanced contracts with their customers.
Some small trucking operators will find themselves signing whatever piece of paper is required to get a job, without being in a position to weigh up what the contract could mean for the financial and operational aspects of their business.
“We know there’s sometimes a perception in trucking that if the wheels are turning, you’re all good,” said Chris Melham, ATA CEO. “But failing to examine the terms of a contract can lead to businesses taking on risks that should belong to customers, signing contracts with flawed chain of responsibility stipulations, or accepting payment terms they don’t have the cash flow to support.
“The ATA will develop a best-practice checklist for trucking industry contracts, which will be launched at Trucking Australia 2016. The detailed checklist and guidance material will be available exclusively to members of ATA member associations. Businesses will be able to use the material as they consider appropriate, they will not be required to use it.
“With information like this, there’s never been a better time to join an ATA member association and get a valuable range of member services.”
To develop the checklist, the ATA is going to ask trucking operators to nominate the contract areas that they find especially problematic. The ATA says it will also establish a new business standards reference group to provide detailed advice on contract and commercial practices in the industry.
The ATA also intends to lobby the Australian Government to improve the availability of information about the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal and Australian Competition and Consumer Commission requirements for trucking operators, including the requirements of the unfair contracts legislation set to come into effect next year.