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Danger money claims bogged down

RISKY BUSINESS: Driver Steven Corcoran says driving on the Bruce Highway is akin to playing Russian roulette.
RISKY BUSINESS: Driver Steven Corcoran says driving on the Bruce Highway is akin to playing Russian roulette. Nat Bromhead

DANGER money advocate Steven Corcoran has been attending Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal conferences and meetings this year, since filing an application for $100 of danger money to be paid to truck drivers every day.

So far his campaign has cost him $35,000, including loss of earnings and costs associated with attending the meetings held in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

"We've been pushing for a rate for two years now and we're fed up with the time it's taken," Mr Corcoran said.

He is the only independent attending the meetings.

In a recent report, it came to light that 710 heavy vehicle drivers had been involved in fatal incidents that were not their fault in the last five years.

A total of 606 truck drivers and occupants were killed from 2003 to 2012 with 181 more killed working around trucks.

Mr Corcoran said 40 truckies had been killed on the job this year alone.

"It's too many," he said.

He's been told by the tribunal that not all the parties need to agree to the idea of danger money to have it worked into a safe rate, which is good news for Mr Corcoran who first started campaigning for danger money in 2012 after his mate died in a crash on the Bruce Hwy.

"Drivers are being pressured by the squeeze put on the industry by massive retailers, meaning that they have to drive too long or too fast, just to make a living," Mr Corcoran said.

"The result is that 80 drivers alone are killed in truck crashes each year (Safe Work Australia 2014). This doesn't include the wives, husbands, children and friends who are also killed in truck fatalities.

"A critical part of turning that around is to ensure safe and enforceable rates of pay, below which remuneration cannot be made to go."

In submissions to the RSRT, drivers proposed a four-point plan to deliver:

Fairer pay - including payment for all time worked, for waiting, loading and statutory breaks.

Safer pay - to ensure that the method of driver payment does not require or encourage longer hours or unsafe practices.

Shared responsibility - clients to share responsibility for safe rates, alongside transport operators and drivers.

Enforceable payments - an end to "voluntary" payment schemes that have failed, replaced by enforceable safe and sustainable rates overseen by the RSRT.

The plan is a result of unprecedented co-operation between owner-driver representatives and the Transport Workers' Union.

"Drivers will be seeking an order from the RSRT, to deliver safe rates of pay and cut the crippling economic pressure which has caused so many deaths on our roads. The lives of truck drivers and all road users are at risk from unsafe rates," Mr Corcoran said.

The debate in tribunal meetings had been heated at times and, apart from a few other owner- drivers who banded together, the other people attending were barristers or representatives paid to be at meetings.

Mr Corcoran said the kilometre rate that drivers currently earn is not enough; once you took out full cost recovery for a truck, you were left with a margin of 20c a kilometre.

An owner-drivers' group has suggested drivers be paid $3.31 per kilometre, while Linfox had proposed different categories that allowed 3165 rates.

Mr Corcoran is now preparing for the final hearing where he might need to call witnesses; he just needs people to speak up.

Timeline

March 2012 Federal Government passes the Road Safety Remuneration Act.

June 2012 Steven Corcoran starts his Truckies Danger Money campaign.

July 2012 The Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal begins.

December 2013 The RSRT makes its first road safety remuneration order.

December 2013 The tribunal announces it will be looking into long-distance driver rates under its second annual work program.

April-July 2014 The tribunal holds conferences and mentions relating to the second annual work program.

July 2014 Inquiry into the Cash in Transit industry starts.

Big Rigs

Topics:  road safety remuneration tribunal transport trucks


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