The impending arrival of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal’s latest Order, due to commence on April 4, continues to be criticised and examined. The latest organisation to come out against the Order is the NSW Business Chamber, which issued a statement calling for the Federal Government to immediately intervene and delay the introduction of the latest Road Safety Remuneration Order.
“The decision introduces, for the first time ever, national minimum rates of pay for owner drivers. It also imposes complex contractual and auditing obligations on supply chain participants,” said NSW Business Chamber Chief Executive Officer, Stephen Cartwright. “The industry needs more time to come to terms with the Order. The Order itself is incredibly complex: there are more than 2,000 different hourly and kilometre rates in the Order, and working out whether the Order applies to your business and which rate applies to a particular trip is almost impossible. It’s just ridiculous.
“I’ve heard reports of people who have called the Fair Work Ombudsman looking for help, only to be told they were not aware of the Order and referring them back to the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, only to be sent back to the Ombudsman again. The Ombudsman has recently changed key information on a ‘checklist’ on its website, and there is a real concern that the revised information is actually wrong.
“The Chamber has already written to the Ombudsman to seek further clarity on its interpretation of a key part of the legislation.”
The NSW Business Chamber have engaged workplace law firm Australian Business Lawyers & Advisors, and the firm’s Chief Executive, Nigel Ward, is quoted as saying he believes the necessary help is not being provided to affected businesses.
“The Tribunal said that it would release an ‘online payments calculator’ to assist businesses to understand their obligations, but the calculator has still not been released, despite the rates coming into effect in less than 6 weeks,” said Ward.
“There is also a concern that the regulation will hurt those it is meant to be helping. One truck driver is so worried that the Order will price owner-drivers out of the market that he has created a petition calling for a 6 month delay to the Order’s commencement. More than 500 people have signed the petition so far.”
NatRoad has also been attempting to get answers to its members’ questions from the Fair Work Ombudsman on the operation of the Contractor Driver Minimum Payments Order. The Ombudsman is said to have reversed incorrect information, which had been provided on their checklists.
According to NatRoad, the major concern of owner drivers is many have already been advised contractor work will either not be available or severely limited after April 4 with owner drivers simply not having the opportunity to negotiate back load rates in particular. The enforcement of owner driver minimum rates for back load purposes simply means that owner drivers will be unable to compete for this work in the free market ,but it will continue to be available to fleet operators.
A survey by NatRoad indicated that 85 per cent of respondents believe that the Order will negatively affect the Industry and that 70 per cent of respondents will not retain the services of contractors post April 4.