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The Australian National University

Regulating Supply Chains to Protect Road Transport Workers: An Early Assessment of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal

Richard Johnstone, Igor Nossar and Michael Rawling (2015) 43 (3)

The Road Safety Remuneration Act 2012 (Cth) (the Act) explicitly enables the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal to make orders that can impose binding requirements on all the participants in the road transport supply chain, including consignors and consignees at the apex of the chain, for the pay and safety of both employee and independent contractor drivers. The tribunal is also specifically empowered to make enforceable orders to reduce or remove remuneration related incentives and pressures that contribute to unsafe work practices in the road transport industry. Recently the tribunal handed down its first order. The article considers whether, and the degree to which, the tribunal has been willing to exercise its explicit power to impose enforceable obligations on consignors and consignees — such as large supermarket chains — at the apex of road transport supply chains. It examines the substance and extent of the obligations imposed by the tribunal, including whether the tribunal has exercised the full range of powers vested in it by the Act. We contend that the tribunal’s first order primarily imposes obligations on direct work providers and drivers without making large, powerful consignors and consignees substantively responsible for driver pay and safety. We argue that the tribunal’s first order could have more comprehensively fulfilled the objectives of the Act by more directly addressing the root causes of low pay and poor safety in the road transport industry.

Vol 43, Issue 3, 2015

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