Trucking industry associations are resisting the Determination handed down by the NSW Industrial Relations Commission. Called the General Carriers Interim Contract Carriers Determination, the ruling has been extended, recently, to include small operators and owner drivers within and passing through NSW and echoes many of the issues raised in the RSRT debate earlier this year.
“NatRoad will always stand up for members, particularly on matters that impact the viability of their businesses and their livelihoods,”said Warren Clark NatRoad CEO. “NatRoad has made an application to the NSW Industrial Relation Commission seeking a general exemption for all NatRoad members from the NSW General Carriers Interim Contract Carriers Determination.
“The majority of our members are small trucking businesses which operate in, or merely transit through NSW. They are not all NSW-based and we believe they should be exempt from this determination. Already we are seeing negative flow-on effects to our members in other States because of this latest industrial change by NSW.
“An exemption for NatRoad members is also a move to protect principal contractors who hire owner drivers, many of whom are also everyday business people and family businesses from those who move freight interstate, to farmers moving livestock, grain or produce, millers moving timber, or deep sea fishers getting refrigerated seafood to major markets.”
The changes to the General Carriers Contract Determination took effect earlier this month and seem to be part of a Transport Workers Union push to expand the mandatory rate obligations. Under the proposal, hirers of owner drivers covered by the Determination will be required to pay new mandatory minimum hourly and per kilometre rates for work performed throughout NSW and beyond. This is intended to include interstate work connected to NSW.
According to Road Freight NSW, the TWU claim would represent a significant change from the current obligations which generally only apply to metropolitan Sydney and to work within a 50 kilometre radius of a hirer’s depot. It says the ruling risks giving rise to many of the same potentially devastating consequences that resulted from the recently abolished Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal’s controversial decisions.
“We already know from recent experience how impractical applying ‘rates’ to businesses can be for owner drivers operating in regional and rural Australia,” said Clark. “These drivers often carry several loads in one trip and rely on return loads to make a trip viable. Externally imposed rates make their businesses untenable and send them to the wall.
“Despite being in place since 1984, this latest move to ramp up and broaden the scope of the determination in the wake of RSRT is potentially devastating to our members, the road transport industry, and its associated industries. In the more than 30 years this little used determination has been in place, the NSW Industrial Relations Commission has only granted a single exemption in relation to rates.
“There will be a significant state-wide impact to small trucking businesses if the changes to the determination and the proposed broadened application and increased rates issue isn’t properly considered and clearly understood.”