NatRoad celebrates NSW GCCD decision

Following months of debate, parties in the NSW Industrial Commission have now agreed to apply the General Contract Carriers Determination (GCCD) to the metropolitan areas of Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong rather than all of New South Wales.

The National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) described the news as a win for mum-and-dad trucking businesses in rural and regional areas of New South Wales.. “After the RSRT this year, the last thing small trucking businesses needed was further confusing changes backed by the unions and yet this is exactly what was in motion through the NSW Industrial Relations Commission,” said Warren Clark, CEO, NatRoads. Clark has spoken before on NatRoad's position on the potential regulation change.

“Just as the National Road Transport Association has done for 70 years, we fought hard to take these confusing conditions and rates of pay back to the Sydney basin where they had always been.

“We need a mix of operators to deliver Australia’s freight and industrial rules like this General Contract Carriers Determination are being used to squeeze out smaller trucking operators.

According to Clark, NatRoads’ members have reported that unions have sent letters to larger trucking companies that need contracted drivers, scaring them with threats of potential fines of up to $10,000.

“This confusion directly resulted in a loss of work for our members who are independent, hardworking business people setting their own rates and meeting the compliance requirements of the most highly regulated industry.

“Australia needs a competitive and resilient road transport industry without ongoing industrial upheaval and confusion.

“Road transport is a national industry and we need to strengthen existing national industrial regulation to keep the industry safe and competitive rather than tinkering with state based arrangements.

NatRoad will continue to represent members as amendments to the GCCD are finalised through formal submissions in the coming months.

The Trade Workers Union have yet to officially respond to the decision.

 

BACKGROUND

The TWU recently expressed its disapproval of a campaign headed by the National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) seeking to reverse an extension of the GCCD agreement from the Sydney area to cover the entire New South Wales region.

The GCCD has covered carrier and truck driver hire rates for three decades in Sydney, and its reach looks likely to increase to cover NSW in January 2018, following pushes by unions over the past three years.

In its statement, the TWU blasted NatRoad’s attempts to fight the regional adoption of the agreement. “Although NatRoad claims to represent mum-and-dad family-run businesses, small fleet owners and the big employers, they appear to be trying to be all things to all people,” the union wrote. “It comes as no surprise that they are seeking to tear down the General Carriers Contract Determination, an agreement that has provided minimum rates, conditions and security of income to owner-drivers in Sydney for over 30 years.

“NatRoad is claiming the GCCD is a ‘confusing industrial instrument’ but the facts are it has simply set a base hourly and kilometre rate for every owner-driver covered based on vehicle size and age. These rates are not plucked out of the air, they are based on inputs to ensure that owner-drivers are able to recover their costs.
“Simply, the GCCD is extremely easy to understand and there is nothing confusing about the concept.”

The TWU rejected an alleged suggestion by NatRoad that the GCCD would adversely affect mum-and-dad enterprises. “The TWU recognises our union was founded by owner-drivers and owner-drivers continue to represent a large part of our membership base. For NatRoad to suggest we would want to see our founding members out of a job is outrageous,” the statement continued.

“Although NatRoad accepts that ‘setting blanket rates for the trucking industry is good for a few’ they are also arguing for a need ‘to ensure the road transport industry – in all its forms – is competitive’,” the TWU continued. “NatRoad obviously wants a return to the ‘good old days’ when workers and businesses were forced to compete against each other.

“It is fact that the TWU is one of the organisation that opposes NatRoad’s involvement in proceedings at the NSW Industrial Relations Commission.  But perhaps this is because NatRoad can’t work out whether they are representing employers or genuine owner-drivers.”

When approached for comment, NatRoad asserted that GCCD is not appropriate for a modern Australia operating within Commonwealth protections such as the Fair Work Act and the Independent Contractors Act. “The National Road Transport Association has a long history of standing up for fairness in the transport industry, particularly where union tactics have sought to attack operators small or large,” the association stated. “Industrial instruments are important tools to ensure we get the settings right for a safe and competitive industry yet they are too often used to confuse transport operators, particularly owner-drivers.

“This is why extending the GCCD to all over New South Wales, not just Sydney, is so concerning.

“The majority of NatRoad members are owner-drivers with just one or two trucks, and we believe in ensuring there is a mix of operators – owner-drivers, small operators through to medium and large size operators – to service the needs of the transport sector.

“Representing a range of interests at the table where industrial changes are proposed places NatRoad in the unique position as we are able to examine the potential impacts and changes from a range of perspectives and then present a fair outcome for operators and the industry.”
Find out more about the TWU’s Safe Rates campaign and NatRoad’s Take It Back To Sydney campaign.

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