Raymond Cooper driving for Grayson's Haulage at the Anti-RSRT convoy, BP Archerfield April 3.
Raymond Cooper driving for Grayson's Haulage at the Anti-RSRT convoy, BP Archerfield April 3. Carly Morrissey

What the RSRO means for YOU

WHETHER you're for or against the Contractor Driver Minimum Payments Road Safety Remuneration Order 2016 (RSRO), the industry is adjusting to the changes and for some, there is still uncertainty around the Order.

Big Rigs aims to deconstruct misunderstood components of the RSRO and provide you with a better understanding of the current implications.

The Federal Court in Brisbane overturned the stay yesterday, which means the RSRO is effective as of 4.15pm April 7.

One of the biggest questions asked is whether there is a retrospective component to the Order, or more specifically, whether contracts obtained or commenced before 4.15pm on April 7 will be valid under the new system.

TWU legal representatives were able to provide clarity around this, stating the Order can only apply to work performed after the Order came into effect and that it had no retrospective operation.

The TWU also provided an explanation of who was affected by the Order, although many are saying the rates may in fact apply to any independent contractor working within the transport industry.

"You can have multiple trucks and still be covered by the order as long as you fall within the definition in the Order - that is that you, another director of the company or a related person such as a family member mainly do the driving in the vehicles," said the TWU.

"This is exactly the same type of owner driver definition applying to the General Carriers Contract Determination which has operated in NSW for over three decades."

Owner-driver and director of Garner Interstate, Graham Garner, recently sought legal advice from a Melbourne barrister to properly decipher the Order and assess exactly who is covered.

The advice obtained by barrister Glenys Jardine outlines the RSRT order for contractor drivers applies to any independent contractor in the transport industry regardless of whether they are a fleet, family or one truck operation.

Barrister Jardine said: "The RSRO 2016 will cover fleet drivers (who are not directors or family members of the director) if they are employees of the company, or if the company has the business of providing road transport services or if the company is undertaking trade and commerce (which it will be doing in providing road transport services).

(b) the RSRO will cover constitutional corporations, which includes Pty Ltd (or private) companies. A constitutional corporation is any company formed under the Corporations Act.

The definitions in the RSRO 2016 appear to be quite convoluted and I notice that the RSRT may be reconsidering these definitions as part of its review of the RSRO 2016."

When asked if the 2016 Order could be interpreted as identical or similar to the 2014 Order, which encompassed more of the industry, NatRoad CEO Warren Clark said: "The main difference is, the 2014 Order covered the entire industry, whereas this one only covers contractor drivers and hirers of those drivers".

Mr Garner is pushing to have the legal advice considered by the Fair Work Ombudsman and has shared the findings with important industry bodies with the hopes it will shape the implementation of the Order.

A large number of truckies have been talking on social media about holding a convoy to Canberra in the hopes the Order might be overturned and some are even considering a blockade.

In response to this the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) announced they will lead the way in a convoy to Canberra on Monday 18 April to protest the introduction of the Order.

Big Rigs spoke to Senator Glenn Lazarus about the likelihood of a blockade and the reasons for hardline action like the convoy.

"We organised a convoy last weekend and a lot of them (truckies) were saying they don't want to put the public out by blockading, but if it has to happen, it has to happen," Senator Lazarus said.

Senator Lazarus also outlined his plans to introduce and amend a bill that would, if successful, abolish the RSRT and the Order.

"The government have said they're going to put up a bill and we're sitting again on the 18th so we'll have to deal with the ABCC bill first, but the government is saying they're going to introduce a bill putting a stay on the Order until January next year.

"I'm going to amend it to make it a full 12 months and eventually put up my own bill forward to get the RSRT and the Order abolished completely," he said.

We asked you, our readers, what you thought and the results showed that the majority of you did agree that the rates need to improve but that the Order needs to apply to the whole industry.

Only 2% of respondents thought that rates don't need to increase and 3% said they were happy with the order as it is.

What we can see quite clearly with results like these is that the industry wants better rates across the board, and it's now a matter of waiting to find out whether legal interpretations of the Order such as barrister Jardine's are adopted. 

Big Rigs

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