WAGGA truck drivers will be forced out of business when new pay rates take effect next month.
Family operated transport businesses will have to sack their children and won’t be able to fill their trucks with freight from multiple clients known as “part-loads” or carry cheaper return loads called “back-loads” or “going home money”.
The Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT) decided owner-drivers would need to charge minimum rates in a bid to stamp out exploitation of small players putting drivers in danger, but local truckies claimed the laws will destroy the very businesses they aimed to protect.
Director of Wagga business Dawson’s Transport, Peter Dawson, will have to fire his two sons and replace them with employees by April 4 unless he deliberately defies the regulation.
“I've been a truck driver for 35 years and had my own business on two occasions, but now I cannot drive my truck and I can't employ my family,” Mr Dawson said.
“From April 4 I don't have a business and my two sons are out of a job, but we’ll work on - they can't stop me from making a living.”
Self-employed local livestock carrier Adam Manwaring struggled to understand the more than 2000 different new hourly and kilometre rates and didn’t expect to stay in business much longer.
“It will shut me down – I just won’t be able to make enough money to pay the bills,” Mr Manwaring said.
“It will also have a very big effect right down the line to mechanics, tyre dealers and farmers who can’t get trucks to pick up their stock.”
Executive director of Livestock and Bulk Carriers Association, Robert Gunning, said the new regulation was made by “someone sitting in a bureaucratic ivory tower” with the “ultimate motivation of supporting union drivers”.
“Small truck businesses transporting livestock from Tumut to Wagga regularly charge farmers for half-loads and put loads together, and they pick up whatever they can to cover the cost of the return trip,” he said.
“Now all part-loads and back-loads will be prohibited for contractors, but bigger companies with employees won’t be affected.”