ARTIO and the vital case for minimum standards

As we move closer towards legislation being tabled for consideration by federal parliamentarians in relation to minimum standards in road transport later this year, it’s important to outline the position of the Australian Road Transport Industrial Organisation (ARTIO), of which the Victorian Transport Association is a member, and of which I am grateful to be national secretary.

The issue has been especially prominent this year with delegations of industry groups visiting Canberra for important discussions, ahead of a vote later this year. 

At these meetings, parliamentarians have heard directly from employers and their representatives, and workers either employed, operating as owner drivers, or in the transport gig economy. Across the board, everyone is feeling the pinch, everyone is concerned about the state of the industry, and everyone is ready for change. 

Together, we’re all calling for reform to fix the crisis in transport. A year ago, we were part of an industry roundtable convened by Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke which resulted in a shared set of principles unanimously endorsed by employers, employer associations, supply chain clients, workers and even transport gig companies. 

The road transport industry plays a crucial role in Australia’s economic future and the safety of all road users.

Our industry is more united than ever before over the need for meaningful reform, powered by the experiences and expertise of transport industry participants. 

ARTIO and the Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) have continued discussions on how a new system within the Fair Work Commission could operate to ensure a safe, sustainable and viable transport industry, including transparency and accountability for all contract chain participants.

The road transport industry plays a crucial role in Australia’s economic future and the safety of all road users. As a price-taking industry operating on slim margins and tight timelines, it faces challenges with unfair commercial influences and pressures that compromise business viability and lead to deadly consequences for transport workers and road users. 

The industry is inherently dangerous and responsible for more workplace deaths than any other sector, and one of the highest rates of bankruptcies – making it imperative to address these issues.

Transport operations heavily depend on entities with economic and market power, particularly at the top of supply chains and contractual networks. 

The economic arrangements imposed by these entities determine the standards that apply to transport operators and workers, significantly impacting the industry’s viability and sustainability.

Some of the most harrowing stories I’ve heard during delegations to Canberra over the last year have been from transport gig workers. They’ve reported horrific deaths, terrible injuries with the company still asking when deliveries will be completed, and contract terminations with the click of a button and not even a reason provided.

The emergence of “gig” type arrangements is a direct threat to our industry and exacerbates the decline in standards and business viability. We need protections so that this type of work doesn’t destroy our traditional transport operations. ARTIO fully supports the federal government’s commitment to enforceable standards to protect us all from this bleak future.

To achieve greater safety, fairness, and sustainability for transport operators and workers in Australia, we need federal parliament to pass transport reform as soon as is practicable. 

We need fair, reasonable, and enforceable standards throughout transport industry supply chains, and further, to ensure supply chain participants are accountable for maintaining safe and fair networks. Transport operators are only as viable as the contracts they hold, and rely on fair competition to operate safely and sustainably. 

ARTIO is committed to working with all stakeholders to enhance the viability, safety, sustainability, and efficiency of the road transport industry amid increasing demands on current processes and operations.

By establishing and maintaining enforceable standards through reform that is informed by industry experts, the road transport industry in Australia can ensure the well-being of its workers, promote fairness, and safeguard its critical role in the country’s economic landscape.

  • Peter Anderson is CEO of the Victorian Transport Association and national secretary of ARTIO

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend