LEGISLATIVE changes aimed at ensuring owner drivers get a decent wage have been introduced to the Victorian Parliament.

The Bill was introduced by Treasurer and industrial relations minister Tim Pallas.

Many of the changes to the Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Act were said to have been suggested by the Transport Workers Union in a submission.

TWU Victoria branch secretary and TWU national vice-president John Berger said the new rules would prevent unsafe driving.

“We have been campaigning for a very long time for these changes and they are a big win for road safety, our members and for this union,” Mr Berger said.

“Under the proposed legislative amendments, owner drivers must be provided cost schedules and contracts and there are financial penalties for infringements to protect owner drivers and a fully-funded Wage Inspectorate will monitor compliance.”

Mr Berger said the union looked forward to working with all political parties and MPs to ensure the measures passed Parliament.

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TWU assistant national secretary Nick McIntosh said while Victoria’s Bill was another step towards giving owner drivers the fairness and safety required to do their jobs, the Federal government still had to do more.

AiGroup Workplace Lawyers last year analysed the proposed changes and noted some key areas, including:

  • Requiring hirers and freight brokers to provide the rates and costs schedule annually if a contractor is engaged under more than one contact during a 12-month period.
  • Clarifying that hirers can meet their obligation to provide contractors with relevant mandated information through electronic means.
  • Requiring that invoices be paid within 30 days of receipt unless there is a dispute.
  • Clarifying that contractors have the option of being covered by the same terms and conditions as an existing regulated contract that has been jointly negotiated.
  • Specifying that the Small Business Commissioner can arrange arbitration where the parties to a dispute agree, and that the Commercial Arbitration Act does not apply to such arbitration.
  • Introducing penalties for failure to provide the information booklet, rate and cost schedule, written contract, and either the appropriate notice of termination of a contractor’s engagement or the specified minimum payment in lieu thereof.
  • Empowering authorised officers to require hirers to produce documents relevant to an investigation, and to enter premises with consent.

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