The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has granted authorisation allowing a group of small business owner drivers to collectively bargain with Toll Transport Pty Ltd for the supply of air freight courier transport services at the Toll Priority Brisbane depot.
The authorisation granted by the ACCC allows the Transport Workers Union to represent owner driver members engaged by Toll Transport to provide air freight courier transport services at Toll Priority’s Brisbane Airport Depot in collective negotiations with Toll Transport. There are currently 76 owner drivers who meet these criteria.
The Royal Commission Inquiry into Trade Union Governance and Corruption is currently considering a range of matters, including arrangements between the Transport Workers Union and Toll Holdings.
“The authorisation granted is narrow in nature, applying to a confined group of owner drivers providing services to Toll Transport at only one of its locations. In the ACCC’s view the conduct it has been asked to authorise is routine collective bargaining conduct by small business that is entirely separate to the broader considerations currently before the Royal Commission,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
“The ACCC considers that the proposed collective bargaining arrangement is likely to result in public benefit, particularly for these small business owner drivers, in the form of transaction cost savings, better market information for the supply of air freight courier services, and the development of more efficient contracts and business practices with Toll Transport.”
“The public detriment is likely to be limited as it only involves a small group of owner drivers operating at the Toll Priority Brisbane Depot. Furthermore, the authorised arrangements do not provide for any collective boycott action, participation in the bargaining process is voluntary for owner drivers and Toll Transport,” Mr Sims said.
Authorisation has been granted until 31 October 2017.
Authorisation provides statutory protection from court action for conduct that might otherwise raise concerns under the competition provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.
The ACCC has over many years authorised a broad range of small businesses to engage in collective bargaining, including dairy farmers, newsagents and hoteliers. More specifically the ACCC has authorised independent owner drivers in fields including concrete carting and milk vending to collectively bargain, some of these arrangements have provided for union assistance or participation.
Small businesses may consider seeking authorisation to collectively bargain with another business, where they think it will enable them to negotiate a more efficient outcome. Some groups will conduct the negotiations themselves, while others may appoint a representative such as an industry association or union to assist.