BASIC RATES: Kirk Porter from KJP haulage says more than 35,000 truck drivers will be affected by changes to rates of pay.
BASIC RATES: Kirk Porter from KJP haulage says more than 35,000 truck drivers will be affected by changes to rates of pay. Paul Braven

Truckies fear destruction if lower pay rates remain

BOTH the Liberal and Labor parties are digging in over the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal's decision to change the minimum rate of pay for truck drivers.

The dispute has taken a new turn after court action designed to delay and stop the introduction of the tribunal's decision failed late last week.

This means owner truck drivers will not be able to set their own rates for jobs and will be forced to lower their rates to meet a minimum standard.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has already signalled that if elected he will abolish the tribunal.

The Federal member for Flynn, Ken O'Dowd, said he would push for new legislation "when and if we come to power".

"This puts the owner drivers in a very precarious situation where they can't quote on their own jobs," Mr O'Dowd said. "If they don't take the minimum payment they'll be breaking the law."

But Kirk Porter, who runs KJP Haulage in Gladstone, questioned the government's enthusiasm to take the issue to an election.

"I appreciate that Ken is behind us," Mr Porter said.

"But the government has been there for three years and they haven't done anything."

The Labor Party and the Transport Workers Union have backed the tribunal's decision, saying it will improve safety on the roads.

"What it'll do is knock the smaller owner drivers out and then all the freight will be handled by the big companies and union drivers," Mr O'Dowd said.

Owner truck driver Geoffrey Single said he would not be able to afford to live on the new "basic rates".

"Some of the rates will go as low as $1.51 per kilometre when we should be getting $3," he said.

"It has to be changed back now (because) we won't survive until the next election."


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