TWU boss sticks to pay fight
NEW Transport Workers Union national secretary Michael Kaine vowed to keep fighting for safe rates, despite renewed calls for their demise from two high-profile detractors.
Both the Australian Trucking Association and NatRoad welcomed Mr Kaine into the desk vacated by Tony Sheldon by questioning the long- running union campaign.
ATA CEO Ben Maguire questioned the TWU on what he called its continued failure to argue for practical safety measures that would improve safety for everyone on the road.
Meanwhile, NatRoad CEO Warren Clark described the Victorian Government decision to mandate "so- called safe rates” for tip truck owner-drivers as the "thin edge of the wedge”.
Both swipes came days before Mr Kaine and TWU members were due to descend on Canberra to lobby politicians for a fair go for drivers and operators feeling the pinch.
"It's a source of frustration for us and regret that the ATA and NatRoad are taking this approach,” Mr Kaine told Big Rigs.
"It goes back a fair way now, to the approach they took in relation to the road safety remuneration tribunal [RSRT].
"That body was just about to put in place orders that needed some work but at their heart had the interests of their members at the forefront; it was going to rebalance the industry in their favour.
"So we continue to be frustrated and bemused about why they are so focused on this ideological approach they take against the union, but we're just going to keep fighting for what we know is right.”
Mr Kaine is adamant NatRoad and ATA's compliance approach to combating safety breaches puts too much focus on drivers and not those higher up the chain.
"We know from decades of evidence that's a failed strategy and they keep suggesting the NHVL and voluntary codes etc, are the things that are going to do the job but all those laws are focused on the consequences of pressure in our industry,” he said.
"Speeding occurs for a reason, because of pressures at the top of the supply chain. Companies and drivers work to a deadline.
"Overloading happens for the same reason; trying to cut costs of economic pressures in contracts.
"And again fatigue, from companies being in a position where they're asking drivers to stay on the road too long so they can make the economics work.”
Mr Kaine hoped both the ATA and NatRoad would get on board with the TWU to make a difference so businesses they have as members can be more sustainable.
"We'll keep trying to convince them they should. We'll also do that by making the case in the community and with the politicians that the answer is to put in place some protection in the form of insuring that those at the very top pay their fair share.”