PERTH, AUSTRALIA – This just in from Down Under.
Truckers here who had planned to shut down the whole industry to protest high fuel prices and logbook rules have called off the strike.
Organizers say there was too much confusion and not enough cohesion among the drivers.
The bright side – if you’re an Australian owner-op, that is — is that at the same time, the Aussie government was drafting new legislation aimed at protecting the drivers.
According to Australia’s Minister for Planning and Infrastructure Alannah MacTiernan, drivers will soon be guaranteed a base rate of pay and carriers will be forced to pay drivers within 30 days of invoicing.
Local media reports that the government will establish a tribunal to resolve disputes and allow drivers to claim lost wages.
Minister MacTiernan says the changes should make the industry safer and fairer.
"We’ve been working for many years on the idea of a safe, sustainable rate of providing a contract situation where these drivers can be guaranteed they will have a decent return for these services," she said.
The downside: Opposition spokesman Simon O’Brien says the new laws make the country ripe for price fixing.
"There’s no question,” he said, “that it promotes the potential for price fixing and potentially even for collusive price fixing.
"We were concerned about the suspension of certain parts of the Trade Practices Act to specifically allow that to happen."
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