Fed Court grants stay on safe truckie pay order


Fed Court grants stay on safe truckie pay order

The Federal Court has, at the 11th hour, granted a stay on an order of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT) setting minimum rates of pay for contract truckies. Plus, the Government has released the findings of two reviews into the RSRT.


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The Federal Court has, at the 11th hour, granted a stay on an order of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT) setting minimum rates of pay for contract truckies. The order, which had been due to start today (April 4), will not commence until the court makes a further ruling. 

Established in 2012, the RSRT has the power to make Road Safety Remuneration Orders (RSROs). The orders aim to address the economic incentives, pressures and practices that contribute to unsafe work practices in the road transport industry.

On 18 December 2015, the RSRT handed down the Contractor Driver Minimum Payments RSRO 2016, which sets minimum rates for contractor drivers involved in long distance operations and the distribution items destined for sale or hire by a supermarket chain. 

RSRT stands by order

The order had been due to commence on Monday, 4 April 2016. However, the RSRT received applications, including from Ai Group and the National Road Transport Association (NatRoad), to vary the order to push back the commencement date and implement transitional arrangements to phase in the new rates. 

Ai Group wanted the operative date to be delayed until 1 January 2017 to allow industry more time to understand the order and make appropriate changes to systems and processes.

Similarly, the NSW Business Chamber’s position was that businesses required more time to understand the order’s complexities. It also claimed the RSRO would price small transport companies out of the market and prevent them from competing with the larger transport companies.

On Friday 1 April the RSRT handed down a decision, refusing applications seeking to vary the RSRO to delay its commencement and introduce transitional rates. Instead, the RSRT determined the RSRO would commence, as scheduled, on Monday, 4 April.

Order stayed by Federal Court

However, on late Friday afternoon, NatRoad applied to the Federal Court in Brisbane for an order staying the RSRO. Justice Collier made an order granting NatRoad’s application and stayed the operation of the RSRO. 

Ai Group, with the support of the federal government, had also applied to the Federal Court in Sydney to stop the RSRO commencing on Monday 4 April. The matter was originally listed for hearing before Justice Buchanan on Sunday 3 April.

However, following the success of NatRoad’s application to the Federal Court, the hearing was cancelled because, in effect, the outcome Ai group sought from Justice Buchanan had already been granted by Justice Collier.  

On Saturday 2 April, the TWU applied to the Federal Court for an order setting aside the stay order granted by Justice Collier. At this stage, the TWU's application has not been heard. 

Feedback sought on reports into RSRT

In related news, Friday also saw the release of two reports detailing independent reviews of the RSRT.

The first, completed by Rex Deighton-Smith of Jaguar Consulting in April 2014, recommended the tribunal should ‘not continue in its current form’.

The second, prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers in January 2016, estimated that the two orders made by the RSRT to date will have a net cost to the economy of $2.3 billion by 2027, even with safety gains factored in. The report concluded there would be a significant net benefit to the economy and community if the tribunal was abolished. 

ACCI, Ai Group, NatRoad, the Australian trucking Association (ARA) and the NSW Business Chamber have pointed to the reports as proof the Road Safety Remuneration System needs to be abolished. Meanwhile, the Transport Workers Union accused the government of “tailoring” these reviews to support the outcome it had sought.  

“The government has made clear all along they wanted to get rid of this tribunal… This is about ensuring their rich mates in the big retailers and manufacturers don’t have to pay their way for the carnage that happens on our roads. It is a sad day for the trucking industry,” said TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon.

The Department of Employment is, for the duration of April, consulting on the findings of the reviews and options for reforming the Road Safety Remuneration System.
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