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Barton Fights for Transport Workers’ Basic Rights

May 10, 2022 | Advocacy, Media Releases, Motions, News, Parliament

This week, the Victorian Parliament will debate a motion brought forward by Rod Barton MP that calls on the Government to establish a tribunal to oversee long exploited transport workers.

Despite being nominally ‘self-employed’, many Owner Drivers in the transport sector have been subject to poor working and safety standards owing to a lack of bargaining power.

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. Too often this creates exploitative and dangerous standards in the road transport industry.

Barton is demanding change.

In an industry with one of the highest rates of ‘small-business’ insolvency, the economic pressures to reduce standards at the behest of safety is ever-present. Unlike employee truckies, couriers or delivery riders, Owner Drivers have next to no entitlements.

Not to mention, the emergence of the gig economy has done these transport workers no favours.

While Victorian Owner Drivers have been hung out to dry, 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 for Owner drivers. Earlier this year, it was extended to AmazonFlex, providing the first minimum rates for AmazonFlex drivers in the world!

Victoria needs our own robust system – an independent body to create legislated standards for all transport workers.

Barton’s motion 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.

This tribunal would stamp out the exploitation that is rife in the industry, especially for drivers in the gig economy. Taxi and rideshare drivers receive no superannuation, no annual leave, no sick leave and no access to workers’ compensation. It is clear, current legislation falls short.

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.

Quotes attributable to Member for Eastern Metropolitan and the Leader of the Transport Matters Party Rod Barton MP:

“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.”

“No transport worker should be without guaranteed minimum rates.”

“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?”

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

ENDS 

Media contact: Norm Dunn, Chief of Staff Rod Barton MP, 0438 175 113 Norm.dunn@parliament.vic.gov.au

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