On Friday of last week, the Victorian Government made commitments if they are re-elected to establish an independent, minimum standard-setting body that will have the power to enforce Safe Rates in Victoria.
This comes after significant lobbying by the TWU Victoria & Tasmania and follows a motion presented in the Victorian Legislative Council in May 2022 by Rod Barton MP of the Transport Matters Party calling on the government to establish a tribunal to oversee long exploited transport workers.
The Safe Rates campaign has fought to lift standards for all transport workers, arguing for more regulation, binding arrangements with economic employers, robust enterprise agreements and rights and protections for owner-operators.
While the Federal Government has committed to establishing a body to set minimum and enforceable standards for drivers, Safe Rates will further safeguard their interests at a state level by providing necessary additional protections.
Transport workers are everyday Australians, entrepreneurs and contributors to our society who deserve a fair go. Non-employee owner-drivers have next to no entitlements. This is a problem now more than ever following the emergence of the gig economy.
This new business model has hidden behind laws that were never written to capture this kind of work, and the goalposts have shifted every time the law has tried to catch up. Without regulation, we have seen drivers that are paid less than the minimum wage and are subject to unfair termination.
Contractor loopholes that enable the exploitation of drivers and encourage the race to the bottom for pay and conditions must be closed.
An independent body such as Safe Rates will create standards for all transport workers protecting pay, conditions and the rights of owner-drivers, will promote healthy competition and keep owner-drivers in business.
This is a great outcome for vulnerable transport workers and yet another step in the right direction.
Barton says he is proud of his part in making this happen and looks forward to working with the TWU to achieve further outcomes for the CPV industry and all transport workers should he be fortunate enough to be re-elected on 26 November.
Quotes attributable to Member for Eastern Metropolitan and the Leader of the Transport Matters Party Rod Barton MP:
“So much work has been done just to get to this stage. Road transport is the most deadly industry in Australia, that is why we urgently need an independent body to set standards and protect workers.”
“Make no mistake, this is only the first step in the fight against the exploitative business models prevailing in the gig economy. I will continue fighting for greater regulation that protects Victoria’s most vulnerable workers.”