TWU WELCOMES VIC OWNER DRIVER LAWS

ATN, 4 July 2018

Proposed laws will give owner drivers access to existing contracts and require they be paid within 30 days, among other things.

The Transport Workers Union (TWU) has welcomed a Victorian government policy that will require hirers to offer contractors an existing site agreement, rather than a new contract for every new owner driver.

The change is one of a series of reforms announced today by Victorian minister for industrial relations Natalie Hutchins, following a review of the state’s Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors (OFDC) Act which started in 2016.

Hutchins says the review uncovered widespread non-compliance by businesses, which meant drivers were not being paid on time, and were thus at a competitive disadvantage.

“The new laws will put an end to this,” she says.

As well as the changes to the OFDC’s joint negotiation provisions, the government will close a loophole that has kept some owner drivers from being able to access the Victorian Small Business Commission and the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

In addition to this, the Small Business Commission will make a low cost, binding dispute resolution process available for owner drivers, for them to use to settle disputes such as the termination of a contract.

Owner drivers will also have access to the government’s newly announced Victorian Wage Inspectorate, set up last month with a mandate to promote “fair industrial relations practices and better education, compliance and enforcement of state-based employment laws.”

The Inspectorate will enforce legal changes requiring companies to pay invoices within 30 days, as well as any other penalties for non-compliance and failing to provide rate and cost schedules and written contracts.

TWU Victorian and Tasmanian branch secretary John Berger welcomed the policy change, saying they would help ensure owner drivers and on-demand workers were not exploited or forced into unsafe practices.

“Currently, many are forced to accept poorly-paid work and they then struggle to meet operating costs and maintain vehicles and often have to make a call between fixing the truck and feeding the family,” he says.

“Enforcement and compliance mechanisms policed by a Victorian Wage Inspectorate, penalties for non-compliance and failing to provide rate and cost schedules and written contracts, setting up rules to banish under-cutting and a new, low-cost dispute resolution process would bring a welcome surety to the industry.”

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© 2016 Transport Workers' Union of Australia.
Authorised by Tony Sheldon, TWU National Secretary, 388-390 Sussex St, Sydney, NSW 2000 Australia.