In a move to save the accident-ridden and fuel cost-hit trucking industry, the National Transport Commission (NTC) is set to review payment systems for heavy vehicle drivers.
The review will identify the causal relationship between current pay methods for heavy vehicle drivers and road safety outcomes, said the joint statement by federal employment minister Julia Gillard, transport minister Anthony Albanese and small business minister Craig Emerson.
The statement said: “From 2000-2004, one in five road deaths involved heavy vehicles, with speed and fatigue widely acknowledged to be significant factors. During recent years, several reports have also linked unsafe work practices in the trucking industry to road accident.
“The trucking industry prides itself on being highly competitive and efficient. However, the industry’s strength can also be its weakness, with truck drivers often find themselves in a weak bargaining position and unable to maintain safe work practices.”
Based on the results of the investigation, which will be submitted to the Government by this November, the Australian Transport Council will seek ways to implement a nation-wide system of safe rates for employees and owner drivers.
The Transport Workers Union (TWU) has welcomed the announcement, describing the action is “a step in the right direction for transport workers”.
“Drivers are crying out for a national system that gives drivers the ability to obtain a safe rate of pay and seek full cost recovery from the powerful transport clients…to get relief from rising costs of living, maintaining a safe truck and fuel spikes,” said TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon.
“It is critically important for the safety of all transport workers and the motoring public who share the roads that we see a national system implemented from this investigation.”