Simone Fox Koob, 14 April 2016

After decades in the business, removalist Martin Fowle is suddenly worried for his customers and his small business.

A ruling by the Road Safety ­Remuneration Tribunal that came into force last week has put ­customers at risk of heavy penalties when they move house.

The tribunal that regulates truck driver pay has ordered self-employed truck drivers to charge a minimum wage when travelling interstate over 200km or more than 500km anywhere in the country.

Mr Fowle, co-owner of family- run John Bull Removals & Storage on Sydney’s northern beaches, has a fleet of five trucks, but often hires subcontractors in busier periods.

The subcontractors are caught by the order, and those who hire them are expected to ensure compliance with the minimum wage — and other conditions including mandatory rest breaks — or face fines of up to $10,000.

According to the Australian Furniture Removals Association and the Fair Work Ombudsman, that includes Mr Fowle and his customers.

Mr Fowle said yesterday that there would be “more red tape” to reassure his customers that everyone in the supply chain was compliant. Running a removalist business used to be relatively ­simple. “I give you a quote for a move, you say that’s fantastic, I’ll accept the job, we do the job, and you’re happy,’’ he said.

However, since the order came into force there’s been ambiguity and confusion, leaving Mr Fowle uncertain about what to tell his customers. “There are a couple of removalists’ Facebook pages and people on there are talking … but no one really knows what’s going on,’’ he said.

He welcomed the Turnbull government’s pledge to abolish the tribunal. “Regular Billy Smith who’s got his truck and just wants to make a living is going to be struggling … he’s going to be squeezed out and have to work for the corporations as an employee,” Mr Fowle said.

“I think it will go the way that it’s happened with large supermarkets … smaller business is squeezed out and the monopolies will take over. A large corporation can swallow it up easily, and are rubbing their hands together.

“Everyone seems to be saying, let’s kick it out the door. Nobody’s up for it at all … I want it to be gone. It needs to be squashed.”

Extracted in full from The Australian.

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