Industrial relations – in the wake of the RSRT

The response confirms the Government’s decision to urgently abolish the RSRT, strongly discourages the setting of mandated rates of pay that apply in a discriminatory manner to owner-drivers and small businesses, and supports the NSW Government’s decision to become a party to proceedings in the NSW Industrial Relations Commission to vary the General Carriers Contract Determination (GCCD).

There is a general consensus that what occurred with the RSRT should never be repeated.

The report released on 23 January 2017 detailed 14 recommendations in total, with the Government supporting some key priorities.

One of particular importance was recommendation 11 – the recommendation that the ASBFEO inquire into ways to reduce payment terms for owner-drivers as part of its inquiry into payment terms.

NatRoad completed an extensive submission to the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman payment times and practices inquiry on 13 January 2017. The main recommendation was to implement a mandatory code to address payment terms issues, particularly those facing small businesses.

The final report for this inquiry is due to be provided to the Government in March 2017.

The second recommendation that the Government supports is the discouraging of the setting of mandated rates of pay that only apply to owner-drivers and small businesses.

NatRoad can see, firsthand, attempts by the unions to put in place – at state level and also through the Modern Awards review process – many of the measures abolished with the demise of the RSRT.

If you care about supporting safety, fairness and genuine competition, the most important action that industry and other associations can take is to be fully aware of the true implications of tinkering with state-based industrial determinations – lend your voice to opposing such unnecessary changes.

Road transport doesn’t stop at state borders – it is a national industry. So why do we continue to create more red tape and complex state-based industrial awards?

Commonwealth protections for small operators and contract carriers are in place through the Fair Work Act and the Independent Contractors Act – work with what we already have in place so we have a level operating field for small and big operators.

Throughout the report there were a number of recommendations supporting the need to provide businesses sufficient time to understand, seek advice and make changes when and if new regulations are to be implemented.

Further to this, engaging with small businesses before a regulation is designed provides an opportunity to gain on-the-ground insights into the workings and impacts on a small business.

The Government outlined five principles to guide agencies on how they should consult and engage with small businesses:
Principle One: Australian Government agencies will actively identify ways to eliminate unnecessary red tape in all policies, programmes and initiatives that affect small businesses.
Principle Two: Australian Government agencies will consult and collaborate with small businesses early and throughout the policymaking and programme design process.
Principle Three – Australian Government agencies will make information targeted to small businesses available through the Government’s primary small business communication channels.
Principle Four – Australian Government agencies will strive to adopt whole-of-government small business solutions to simplify the way businesses interact with the Government online.
Principle Five – Australian Government agencies will communicate with small businesses in clear, simple language and present information in an accessible format.

Whilst we look ahead at the positive changes to come, it’s important to continue doing everything we can to carry on strengthening our own businesses. There are plenty of resources available through the NatRoad small trucking business toolkit to help get you started.

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