ATA’s work diary alternative gets thumbs down from union

A proposal by the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) to scrap the logbook and put employers in charge of monitoring driver hours puts “the fox in the charge of the hen house,” says the Transport Workers’ Union.

The work diary substitute is a key component of the ATA’s draft Road Transport Act, which it says would replace the National Heavy Vehicle Law and break the stalemate in the long-winded review by the National Transport Commission (NTC).

In a media statement today, the TWU national assistant secretary Nick McIntosh said if the NTC is serious about improving standards in the industry, the ATA’s proposal must be rejected.

“Rather than tackling the question of why employers are pressuring drivers to work dangerously or looking at ways to improve how logbooks are used, the ATA’s throwing the baby out with the bathwater to give bosses more power to cover up the deadly pressure on drivers,” said McIntosh.

“The ATA’s again putting profits ahead of the safety of the hardworking men and women who do an extraordinary job driving our national supply chains. Watering down fatigue and compliance rules to make it easier for companies throughout supply chains to pressure truckies will only make road transport more deadly.

“Federal regulation is absolutely the best way to clean up the industry’s economics, but not like this.”

McIntosh said drivers need an independent body with the power to set enforceable standards in road transport; something the Glenn Sterle-led Senate committee recommended over six months ago.

“If the ATA was truly representative of the industry, rather than just the businesses looking to squeeze supply chains and work drivers harder for longer no matter the cost, it should join with the TWU in banging on the Prime Minister’s door demanding immediate action, not floating dangerous proposals like this which would gut safety standards in trucking.”

Veteran owner-driver and former ATA owner-driver representative on the association’s General Council, Frank Black, also slammed the proposal for taking control out of truckies’ hands.

“The idea that transport bosses are better placed to monitor working hours than drivers would be funny if it weren’t so serious,” said Black.

“In my opinion, giving bosses more power to dictate how drivers work without drivers being able to independently document their own working hours only increases the chances of being underpaid or ripped off.

“It’s hard enough to attract drivers to our industry given rising costs and slipping standards. Giving companies more power to cover up dodgy behaviour isn’t going to change that – it’s only going to make it worse.”

The only comment the ATA told Big Rigs it wanted to make in response to today’s union statement was that it looked forward to briefing the TWU on its proposal.

Under the proposed act, every business operating trucks would need to address driver fatigue in its safety management system (SMS).

The regulations would set out maximum work hours for non-certified businesses.

Certified businesses could exceed that level with appropriate risk controls.

Businesses would be required to keep records of driver work hours. They would not need to use official work diaries. Minor fatigue/work diary offences would be eliminated.

“Our draft Road Transport Act sets out positive changes,” said Smith.

“It would be a Commonwealth Act, not a co‑operative national scheme, so the law would be the same for all the states and territories that agreed to participate.”

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