With transport workers 12 times more likely to lose their lives than other Australian worker we know how important it is that safe rates of pay and conditions are introduced and defended for transport workers.
A fair go for owner drivers
The TWU has been representing owner drivers in Queensland for over a century and from a time when the transport of goods was mainly with horse and cart.
If you work as an owner driver you know exactly how tough it can be. The cost of fuel, maintenance, insurances and the pressures caused by breakdowns, unpaid waiting time, unpaid invoices all add up to make life difficult for owner drivers. The long hours wouldn’t be so bad if there was something to show for it all at the end of the week.
The trouble is that all too often there is not much to show for a long hours, a lot of hard work and the risks associated with running a small business. For example, some owner drivers working in the Courier industry on parcel rates work for less than $10.00 an hour.
Your TWU has campaigned for many years for “Safe Rates”. In 2012 the Labor Government passed the Road Safety Remuneration Act which established the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal. That Tribunal began the important work of introducing enforceable minimum rates of pay for owner drivers and payment for all time worked. Unfortunately, in 2016 the Liberal Coalition Government, with the support of some short sighted cross bench Senators took the extraordinary step of abolishing the Tribunal.
Owner drivers in NSW continue to enjoy decent minimum rates of pay and conditions under their State legislation. In NSW owner drivers across various parts of the Transport Industry are covered by Contract Determinations (which are like Awards). After the abolition of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal owner drivers in Queensland have next to nothing to protect them from unscrupulous transport companies and their greedy clients.
Things have to change in Queensland and nationally and you can be part of the fight to take back control of your industry and to get a fair go for owner drivers.
Wealthy Clients Are Ruining Your Industry
How often have you lost work and income because the company that hired you lost the contract to a competitor or were threatened with the loss of a contract if they did not reduce their rates.
It happens all the time. Wealthy clients at the top of the supply chain who want to gouge bigger profits look to reduce costs including in transport. Without regulation of rates of pay for owner drivers, transport companies find it hard to resist the pressure to reduce rates and the cost reductions are then passed down the line to the owner driver who must deliver more for less.
There is a race to the bottom with rates of remuneration for owner drivers. The race to the bottom won’t stop until owner drivers in Queensland come together to make a difference.
Safe and Fair Rates of Pay
Owner drivers in Queensland and nationally would be a far better position today if the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal had survived to do its important work including setting minimum rates of pay. Owner drivers in NSW enjoy minimum rates of pay that are set by Contract Determinations.
When entering into contracts Queensland owner drivers need to be careful to ensure that the rates that they work for are safe, sustainable and fair. A fair rate of pay is one that allows you to work reasonable hours and pay all the bills without skimping on maintenance and at the end of the week have enough left over to look after yourself and your family. At the very least you need to earn the same as an employee if they were doing your work. The rates of pay and conditions for employees are set by the Road Transport and Distribution Award or the Road Transport (Long Distance Operations) Award.
The TWU is continuing its fight for safe rates and the establishment of a National and State based Tribunal that can set rates for owner drivers that are fair.
The rates you need to charge to the hirer to take home a fair rate of pay depend upon your fixed and variable costs which in turn depend up the size and configuration of the truck or van that you own.
Our website has an owner driver survey that you can complete that provides a ready reckoner to guide you as to a fair rate of pay for your vehicle.
What Laws Apply to Owner Drivers in Queensland
In Queensland the relationship between owner drivers and those that hire them is governed mainly by the common law and in particular, the law relating to contracts. The contract will set out the important terms and conditions of engagement including the term of the contract, when and how the contract will come to an end, rates of pay and payment terms, penalties for non performance or poor performance etc and dispute resolution.
The trouble is that most of the time the hirer will not negotiate over the terms of the contract. Contracts are provided on a “take it or leave it” basis because hirers do not wish to negotiate with owner drivers either individually or collectively.
However, some groups of owner drivers with the assistance of the TWU have managed to get a better deal through collective bargaining. To engage in collective bargaining owner drivers must obtain an exemption from the provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act through the ACCC. The TWU has successfully applied for exemptions for groups of owner drivers working in the concrete industry, car carrying, and the courier industry.
Under the Independent Contractors Act there are some very limited protections against unfair contract terms and unconscionable conduct but for the most part owner drivers must look to their contract to determine their rights and obligations.
Our website contains a handy guide to negotiating a contract.
Where contracts are breached by hirers it is up to the owner driver to enforce their rights in a Court of law sometimes after independent mediation. That can be a very expensive exercise.
The TWU is fighting to establish a State based system for the resolution of disputes between owner drivers and hirers. We want the system to be accessible, inexpensive and free from legal technicality.
Join the Fight
The TWU cannot fight for safe sustainable and fair rates of remuneration and accessible and cheap dispute resolution processes for owner drivers unless owner drivers themselves are willing to join the fight.
Are you willing to join the fight to take control of your industry for you, your mates and for your family?
Join your TWU today.