Truck convoys to protest tribunal axing

Truck drivers are using convoys to call for safe pay rates on Sunday. Source: SBS News

Trucks will converge on six capital cities on Sunday as part of a union campaign to reinstate minimum pay rates for truck drivers.

Up to 100 trucks will converge on the Sydney Harbour Bridge on Sunday morning as part of a nationwide union campaign to reinstate minimum trucking pay rates.

The minimum rate for truck drivers was abolished in April when the Turnbull government, with help from independent senator Glenn Lazarus, abolished the wage-setting Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT).

Transport Workers' Union (TWU) NSW secretary Richard Olsen said the convoy, which will take place in six capital cities, was part of a larger effort to reintroduce "safe rates".

He said minimum rates prevented truckies from taking unnecessary road risks such as speeding, driving long hours or skipping breaks.

More than 2500 people were killed in truck-related crashes in the past decade.

"There's got to be a mechanism which is not available at present under Fair Work that can deal with these matters," Mr Olsen said.

"A lot of good work can be done by a commission and by the government and industry and unions coming together."

However, Australian Trucking Association (ATA) chief of staff Bill McKinley said the RSRT had increased the costs of owner-drivers by more than 20 per cent, rendering them uncompetitive.

Mr McKinley said transport law reforms, stronger penalties and an overhaul of truck driver training were more likely to reduce the road toll in the long term.

He said evidence linking minimum rates and road safety was tenuous and only propagated by unions such as the TWU.

"We have called on political parties and candidates to confirm they will not re-establish the RSRT or any similar price fixing mechanism," Mr McKinley said.

"What Australia needs is practical measures to improve road safety."

Mr Olsen was sceptical of the ATA's allegation that price fixing increased the cost of business.

"That is nowhere near what we think would occur," Mr Olsen said.

"I'd hate to think what the rates of pay were before, they must have been very poor."

TWU members earlier conducted a sit-down at a busy Sydney CBD intersection in May to protest the RSRT's abolition.

They have also funded television advertisements linking the death of children in road accidents to the coalition government's opposition to minimum rates.

Source AAP

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