Member Alert – Special Edition BIC Summit Day 2

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This special edition Member Alert reports on some of the sessions held on Day 2 of the BIC Bus Industry Summit in Canberra. We will be able to provide you with more once the BIC releases their report, and the slides, from the sessions. Here is an overview of some of the presentations/discussions from 29 June 2022:

Labor’s current employment position

Tim Capelin, Senior Partner – Piper Alderman

Provided some insight and predictions about the new Labor Government’s position on employment.

Secure employment:

  • Restrict fixed term contracts
  • Redefine casuals (may or may not occur)
  • FWC regulate gig workers
  • Labor hire workers equal pay – same job same pay
  • Portable leave – preserving long service leave
  • Public sector to lead

Other employment conditions:

  • 10 days family and domestic violence leave
  • Criminalise wage theft
  • Streamline recovery of unpaid wages processes – make sure your pay systems are properly audited because there will be a focus on correct pay
  • Ban pay secrecy clauses
  • Pay increase for “low paid”

Commitment to implement the unimplemented recommendations of Fairness at Work Report

Government will implement all 55 recommendations, a couple of these are:

  • Positive duty – meaning reasonable and proportionate measures to eliminate sexual discrimination. However, if an employee is in breach of the law, you as an employer are already responsible. Sexual discrimination goes to safety, and you already have a positive duty for safety in your workplace.
  • Practical additional changes – giving the Aust. human rights commission greater resources to assess issues and undertake enquiries into industries. They will have a greater ability to bring representative actions by unions and representative bodies – able to prosecute claims of non-compliant employers.

Balance the Fair Work Commission – currently there are 24 from a legal background, 11 from a union background, and 9 other. However, people appointed to the Commission tend to take their statutory obligations seriously and ethically. Nonetheless there will probably be more apppointees with union backgrounds.

Things the Government may do (likely but not committed)

  • Enterprise bargaining – restricting EA termination by employers. Not let employers unilaterally cancel an EA
  • National labour hire licencing laws
  • Encouraging expansion of Industrial Manslaughter Laws (already in place in SA)

What might the Greens/Unions push Labor to do?

  • More on gender pay equity
  • Higher minimum wage
  • Greater protection of gig workers
  • Restrict non-disclosure clauses in settlements
  • Greater ability to take protected industrial action

Heavy Vehicle national law and PBS for buses

Sal Petrocitto – CEO of National Heavy Vehicle Regulator

A focus on safer and flexible fatigue:

  • Flexibility to allow work at night when undertaking rail replacement and tour and charter work
  • Flexibility when doing shift work or reduced work hours in a day
  • Accumulation of shorter more frequent breaks, rather than a 15-minute minimum break

Industry is continually saying that the current structures are not fit for purpose. That compliance can be unsafe and non-compliance can be safe. They are not receiving requests for more hours – it’s how the hours are used.

They fundamentally believe that technology will be a significant enabler and that moving away from counting hours to smarter tech solutions is great. There is a need to continue discussing what is fit for purpose. Hoping for a sensible outcome.

Simplification is needed in the way fatigue provisions are written. There should be a move away from some of the punitive aspects towards a risk-based approach, and technology will be the fundamental and key driver. They are currently working with an operator to trial some of the technology-driven fatigue possibilities.

Zero emission buses – mass and dimension

NHVR needs to discuss mass with other government agencies. They will continue to push with government departments, and need to have a ‘hard chat’ about getting Euro VI over the line. It is the first step to zero emissions.

Yes, all kinds of new capacity are needed to deliver Euro VI onto the market, but discussions must happen about mass and length at the government level. They want to provide regulatory frameworks to facilitate mass and length, not inhibit it.

**There was a comment from the crowd about school bus safety lights – why do we still have state based regulations on this and not national? Sal said they have escalated the issue and are starting the work. It needs to be fixed. As a regulator they have certain controls and powers, but also certain limitations, they have to work within that.

Spatial platform – NHVR Maps and route planner

They will be delivering a single national network map with up-to-date network data and route planning capability. Dynamic routing now takes vehicle configurations and automatically snaps them to a preferred route or network.

Platform overview:

  • Latest technology and open-source platform
  • Permitted and gazetted networks in one view
  • Intelligent routing for heavy vehicle operators
  • Innovative road manager map editing capabilities
  • Emergency mapping service for heavy vehicles

Outcomes include:

  • Up-to-date mapping and changes in real time
  • One national heavy vehicle network map
  • Operators can download routes and networks
  • Enables road managers to manage networks
  • Targeted asset investment opportunities

Open forum discussion – Euro VI

This was mentioned over and over in the Summit – the change from Euro 0 to VI has massive implications for the industry, and we don’t have standards in place yet, Australia is lagging behind.

There is a major challenge around manufacturing and the predicted volume requirements for vehicles over the next decade. It is a massive undertaking.

Going to need a lot more engineers and specialist staff on the ground to get to where we need to go.

Open forum discussion – Increased vehicle ordering and ZEB tranisition

There was a question along the lines of, if there is a rush for more vehicles across 2028 – 2029, and then there’s a slump afterwards, what does that do for industry? What are the risks?

All of the manufacturers basically said they can ramp up as required.

A question was asked of the room, are any operators concerned about absorbing all these predicted new buses into their fleets?

“If all ZEB then there are challenges.”

“Need to consider whether we have enough footprint [depot space, etc) to implement the requirements of ZEB.”

“Should we be keeping our diesel buses while we adjust to the new buses and tech?”

“We’re apprehensive around how the transition will go.”

“It’s not the buses, the issue is infrastructure and a supply of green power – the government wants green energy.”

“There needs to be more federal management to balance supply of buses with the supply of infrastructure and power.”

“It all circles back to a previous question – who pays? This is a nation-building exercise.”

Open forum discussion – Bus mass in general

Key thing is that some of the issues around bus mass can’t just be connected to ZEB. There are issues with Euro VI that need to be looked at.

There has been conjecture around how current calculations are done – re 18 tonnes on 2 axles – anecdotally some are using it to try and get more passengers on board, which wasn’t meant to be the outcome. The outcome was meant to be about working within parameters.

“Hopefully operators have not done that otherwise the HVR will be knocking on your door.”

“It is to be noted that non-conformance in our industry is very low. Bus remains one of the safest forms of travel in Australia. Within our regulatory framework we do a great job. Regulatory and policy people understand that if the industry is asking, it means we can manage them in a safe and effective way.”

Open forum discussion – Pending Australian Design Rules (ADR) changes

ADRs are being amended to allow extra width for safety related items when fitted to heavy vehicles (including buses) such as:

  • Rear vision mirrors and devices for ‘indirect vision’
  • Any other devices to enable to driver to see objects in an area adjacent to the vehicle including ‘crossover mirrors’
  • Monitoring devices fitted as part of an ‘automated driving system’ and/or a ‘close proximity information system’
  • Signalling devices and side-mounted lamps and reflectors, and
  • The deflected part of the tyre sidewalls (i.e. load induced tyre bulge).

We need to be agile when fitting systems to our vehicles that are readily available overseas.

Open forum discussion – Rear overhang issues and the differences between jurisdictions

Rear overhangs vary from state to state. The BIC is negotiating the position that the NSW allowance (4.9m or 70%) needs to be the national standard, but they need more input from chassis and imported bus suppliers on overhangs and configurations.

Open forum discussion – Electronic work diaries

There was a question about whether they would be mandated.

The answer from the regulator was that at the moment there will be no requirement to use electronic work diaries, or a mandate to do so. But they did comment, “however why would you use old school paper?”.