Peak body says a $30 per week wage increase for truckies is too high

The National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) has flatly rejected a union push for a 3.5 per cent increase across all awards rates this year.

NatRoad, which describes itself as Australia’s largest road transport industry group, said today that now is not the time for an increase of that size, and has called for “cool heads and realism”.

Last year the Australian Council of Trade Unions sought a 4 per cent increase, but the Fair Work Commission’s minimum wage panel settled on 1.75 per cent in recognition of the effects of the pandemic.

“Those effects are still being felt and uncertainty remains, so cool heads and realism must prevail,” said NatRoad CEO Warren Clark.

Clark said the claim amounted to a rise of $30.24 per week for a local driver of a single articulated vehicle (GCM >22.4t) and $31.57 per week for a local driver of a B-Double (Road Transport and Distribution Award 2020).

“That may not sound a lot but when the vast majority of heavy vehicle operators are small businesses operating on a profit margin of 3 per cent, it can break someone,” Clark said.

“NatRoad supports the Federal Government’s submission in urging the Fair Work Commission to take a cautious approach given the current uncertainties in the domestic and international economic outlook.

“Keeping small business viable is a ‘not negotiable’ right now and the minimum wage increase should be discounted to take into account the rise in the superannuation guarantee from 9.5 per cent to 10 per cent that is due from 1 July 2021.”

The ACTU, however, argues that positive unemployment data stands in stark contrast to the record low wage growth working Australians continue to face, and shows the need for an increase in the minimum wage.

The economic data shows that this wage increase is affordable and would share the benefits of the recovery with working people. Profits were up 8.9 per cent in 2020 while wage growth continued at the record lows we have seen for the last eight years.

“The key missing element of the recovery is wages growth. It is now time for a pay rise so working people also benefit from the recovery and are able to drive spending and consumer confidence,” said ACTU secretary Sally McManus.

“We can’t afford a recovery which drives up profits but does nothing for working people or small business.

“Big business is profiteering while working people struggle to make ends meet. We need to ensure that everyone is part of the recovery.”

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