ACFS CEO says industry is in crisis as Albanese pledges swift moves if elected.
The Transport Workers Union (TWU) gained a significant employer’s voice in favour of its resurgent Safe Rates campaign.
ACFS Port Logistics CEO Arthur Tzaneros was on hand at Parliament House in Canberra for the Safe Rates Summit organised by the union and the ALP, to reiterate his concern that a free-for-all on transport rates is unrestrained and going in only one direction.
“The transport industry, in short, is now in crisis,” Tzaneros says in a summit video on the union’s site.
“We’ve hit the floor in regards to rates, payment terms, and compliance across the transport industry.
“Our trucks share the roads with families, our friends and the general community.
“I’ve spoken about, in a previous forum, that there is no floor – we can pay a sub-contractor less than a company driver.
“We provide a driver and pay them more than what we pay a sub-contractor. A sub-contractor that has to provide a truck; a truck driver that has to provide a trailer, and has to cover all those costs.
“There is no floor [and] there is no regulation as to how low sub-contractors are paid. It’s as low as they want to go.
“We’ve now got to the point that the customers out there on an annual basis are expecting reductions. There is offshore procurements; there is online tendering – with the sole focus of reduced rates.
“We can’t continue to be a sustainable industry, we can’t continue to be an industry that youth wants to enter – an ageing industry – with the state our industry is in at the present.
“We need to do something and now is the time.”
The union later quoted further statements attributed to Tzaneros.
“Arthur Tzaneros of port logistics company ACFS says when rates are reduced by as much as 40% there is guaranteed pressure on transport operators and workers. We know that pressure is deadly on our roads,” it states on Twitter.
“The only way to make ends meet when truck drivers are underpaid is to sleep slumped over their steering wheels between double shifts. I’ve seen it happen,” Arthur Tzaneros, ACFS.”
Also speaking at the event, the ALP’s transport spokesman Anthony Albanese, reaffirmed his party’s commitment to push for reform of the trucking industry if the next election leads to a change of government.
Albanese takes aim at “bad practices” from a “completely free-market, let it rip approach” in the industry that affects drivers, companies and road safety.
“That’s why this is an issue for the whole community, not just the heavy vehicle industry,” he says.
While not calling for the reinstitution of the abolished Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT), Albanese insisted having nothing in its place was a blunder.
He reiterated once more that, should Labor be elected, “we are absolutely committed to taking action when it comes to Safe Rates”.
Related consultation at the summit and before the election would allow an ALP government to “act and act early, to make sure we make a difference”.
ACTU president Michelle O’Neil underlines the union movement’s support for the TWU campaign.
“It is long past time to put in place a system here we no longer have deadly pressure in this supply chain.” O’Neil says.
ALP industrial relations spokesman Brendan O’Connor defended the RSRT as a “regulatory response” to the “race to the bottom on safety and the race to the bottom on rates”, when previously there was no such mechanism.
While saying the RSRT wasn’t going to stop all accidents O’Connor credited the RSRT with “contributing to a decline in accidents”.
– Published by ATN on 13 February 2019