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MP calls for independent tribunal for Victorian owner-drivers

tribunal

Transport Matters MP Rod Barton brings a motion to Victorian parliament today that calls on the Labor government to establish a tribunal to oversee non-employee transport workers.

Despite being nominally ‘self-employed’, many owner-drivers have been subject to poor working and safety standards owing to a lack of bargaining power, said Barton.

He said this has been compounded by the fact that owner-drivers are not provided legislative protections under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cwlth) and other industrial laws, and too often this creates exploitative and dangerous standards in the road transport industry.

Barton points out that NSW has had legislation in place since 1996 that protects the pay, conditions, and rights of owner-drivers. Chapter 6 of the Industrial Relations Act 1996 in NSW sets minimum rates of pay.

Earlier this year, it was also extended to AmazonFlex, providing the first minimum rates for AmazonFlex drivers in the world.

Barton’s motion today calls on the government to establish a tribunal comprised of industry experts to oversee all non-employee transport work and workers, regardless of label, in Victoria, that will have the power to:

  • set minimum and enforceable standards, including pay and conditions
  • enter into enforceable and certified collective agreements through a bargaining regime
  • resolve any disputes, including unfair terminations; and
  • review unfair contracts.

Barton urges the government, the opposition and his crossbench colleagues to provide Victoria’s most vulnerable and underpaid workers with the basic workplace rights and conditions they deserve.

“This tribunal will be critical for Victorian transport workers. They deserve the basic rights and workplace conditions that are afforded to their NSW counterparts,” said the Member for Eastern Metropolitan.

“Truck drivers were our lifeline during the pandemic. We recognised our reliance on them when driver shortages led to empty supermarket shelves. What will become of us when they’re all forced to park up because they can’t turn a profit?”

“Striking isn’t the first option or the second option – it’s the last option because the bills don’t strike with you. You don’t get any solidarity from the banks.”

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