A review that is bound to affect you

It was a time of infamous blockades or union black bans curtailing business operations that prompted formation of an organisation to tackle industrial relations matters on behalf of operators.

In 2017 we continue to actively participate in these complex challenges and discussions that shape our industrial relations landscape. These are intense commitments for our association that can take many months, even years to reach an outcome – yet each in their own way has the ability to impact the competitiveness of road transport businesses.

That is why we take our seat at the table, as we have always done, on behalf of members and the industry.

This year we will continue to be involved in proposed changes to the NSW General Contract Carriers Determination, in Victoria, the inquiry into the Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Act 2005 and the Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Regulations 2006 and, on a national scale through Fair Work Australia, we are scrutinising proposed changes to the modern awards which include the Road Transport and Distribution Award 2010 and the Road Transport (Long Distance Operations) Award 2010. The regular four yearly reviews of the modern awards are important for all operators.

The awards form the second element of Australia’s workplace relations safety net. The first is the National Employment Standards (NES). It is unlawful to employ someone on conditions less than in the NES or the applicable modern award, so provisions that increase costs in modern awards affect everyone in the industry. This includes those who have an enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA), as an employee must be better off overall under the EBA than under a modern award.

We know from the regularly updated indices reports produced by Transeco (available to NatRoad members at a discounted rate) that wages represent 40 per cent of business costs for road transport operations.

Ensuring fairness is key. Last year we saw first-hand what happens to the industry when rules or provisions unfairly target just one segment of the industry through the RSRT.

Fairness comes when the voices and evidence from the full sector are represented during the decision-making. As the Fair Work Commission considers the changes this March we will no doubt hear the proposed amendments to the awards debated through the media.

It is a delicate balancing act for the Fair Work Commission to determine, based on legitimate evidence, what – if any – changes should be made, and how those changes will impact the spectrum of road transport operators.

There are some positive changes to the awards proposed by employers such as the introduction of an early morning shift so that ordinary hours of work can be performed early in the morning.

There are some changes that have the potential to add millions in costs to the industry including a claim that employers must make up the pay of a worker on workers’ compensation to 100 per cent of the pre-injury wages, payment being made on an hourly basis for employees engaged in two-up driving operation for the non-driving component of the trips, and a proposed new payment for drivers who are waiting more than an hour when loading or unloading.

At the end of this month, NatRoad will make a submission on behalf of members (and the industry) for consideration by Fair Work Australia and we welcome your input, insights and experiences to help shape the next four years of the Modern Awards for our industry.

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