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NatRoad comments on gig economy

The National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) has submitted its recommendations to the Victorian Inquiry into the on-demand workforce.

NatRoad CEO, Warren Clark, said that the nature of the freight task is changing.

“We told the Inquiry that this change in part comes from changing community preferences and demographics linked with technology developments,” he said.

“Members have informed us that there are a large number of digital platforms that ‘match’ freight tasks with transport companies. They essentially offer a limited form of freight forwarding, often without assuming any of the liabilities which accompany the traditional manner in which freight forwarding tasks occur. They want members to operate on demand.”

Clark said that the experience of NatRoad members with these platforms has been negative.

“NatRoad surveyed our members and the qualitative feedback was that currently digital platforms are only used to fill occasional loads,” he said. “But there are no checks and balances in place to ask if the members have the capacity to complete the job, the right insurance or safety measures in place. These platforms do not meet the Chain of Responsibility requirements at all.”

According to feedback from NatRoad’s survey, regulation through the Chain of Responsibility (CoR) would be welcome by its members.

“Although NatRoad has welcomed the changes that enhance the Chain of Responsibility provisions from 1 October 2018, they are still limited to specific parties,” said Clark. “The definition in the Heavy Vehicle National Law [HVNL] of who is a party in the chain needs to be amended to include all parties who influence or control transport activities. This will then capture persons who promote ‘platforms’ for the undertaking of work but who currently protect themselves from any legal responsibilities related to the transport task.

Clark said that it is NatRoad’s main recommendation to the Inquiry to expand CoR obligations.

“We also argued against the re-introduction of ‘safe rates’ into the transport industry; but we proposed that there should not be freight contract rate that was below the modern award minimum wage rate unless it was filling a backload or part-load and there was informed consent to this condition.

“Paying below the modern award rate would be plainly unconscionable.”

The Victorian Government has extended the deadline for Inquiry submissions to 20 February 2019.

(Image: NatRoad CEO, Warren Clark.)

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