OHS challenges face the Australian taxi industry

The New South Wales Parliamentary has released the findings of its inquiry into the State’s taxi industry.  Although OHS was not the focus of the inquiry, “working conditions” were included in the terms of reference and the report has made some safety recommendations.  The taxi industry requires an innovative approach to OHS implementation in order to meet future driver and passenger demands.

The Committee has called for

“…an increased emphasis on occupational health and safety, industrial issues and insurance rights to better inform taxi drivers of their entitlements and responsibilities…”
even though the NSW Taxi Council stated that existing training exceeded national training standards.  Perhaps the range of stakeholders consulted by the Council needs reviewing.  Clearly training has been deficient in reality even if it matches national benchmarks.  This  calls into question one’s reliance on national training standards.
The committee made a formal recommendation (number 52) on training
“That NSW Transport and Infrastructure review the current driver training program and increase the amount of time that is allocated to teaching about occupational health and safety as well as industrial rights issues.” [link added]
The Federal Government announced in November 2009 that new national standards would be introduced for the taxi industry from July 2010 so it is interesting to note some of the comments to the NSW inquiry given the writing was on the wall.
The new national minimum standards include
  • “use of a taxi’s communication systems
  • skills and knowledge to safely drive a taxi
  • ability to operate a wheelchair accessible taxi
  • understanding of occupational health and safety issues impacting on taxis
  • ability to identify and describe local attractions, services and major roads
  • completion of workplace induction into the transport industry
  • provision of customer service to passengers
  • skills to operate a taxi meter, calculate fares, handle payments and maintain
  • accounting records” [emphasis added]
It listed OHS hazards faced by taxi drivers from
“…unroadworthiness of vehicles, driver fatigue and transporting passengers who may be under the influence of alcohol or illicit substances.”
This combination of hazard could be difficult to face on a regular basis and the Australian Taxi Drivers Association expressed reasonable expectations in its submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry:
“Almost all drivers want to do their job, arduous as a twelve hour shift may be, in safety and with a degree of respect and self respect which ensures they will be paid for their services, not be physically assaulted or robbed, and in a reasonably comfortable working environment. They would like to earn a living wage for their families. They would offer, in return a comfortable, reliable, and safe trip for passengers, with a courteous and appropriate level of service and communication.”
There have been many inquiries into the taxi industry over the years in almost all Australian states.  OHS legislation is a one size fits all but there are always fringe industries and not-so-fringe industries that struggle with the implementation of workplace safety and the application of its laws.  Some fringe industries like Australia’s licensed sex industry struggle to even fit the OHS obligations.
The taxi sector has moved more mainstream as it brings itself under the public transport purview but it remains a challenging application of OHS principles.  It is also one of the few remaining industries were there is an us and them perspective on industrial relations and which is further complicated by the growing ethnic demographic of the industry.
The Australian taxi industry will be at the forefront of  the application, or failure, of future IR and OHS laws.  Major industry sectors such as mining, construction and the civil service may get the media attention through street marches, printed t-shirts and online campaigns but the rabble of taxi drivers who spontaneously protest over safety and security issues, who have poor rates of English literacy and work long hours is a sector that requires a different approach when discussing industrial relations and occupational safety.
The Parliamentary report sits now with the New South Wales Government awaiting response.  New federal requirements come into effect in a matter of weeks.  New OHS laws are only months away.  Innovative OHS thinking for this industry sector needs to start now.

5 thoughts on “OHS challenges face the Australian taxi industry”

  1. Every taxi driver who work\’s in city area\’s of every Australia State and Terrority wide is entitled to Weekly wage under the contract of determination Methods where two type of weekly wage is considered

    Commission Base payment

    45%Taxi driver first year for five day shift / 55% percent owner
    After two years of service is entitle to 50% percent taxi driver 50 % percent owner

    Plus Holidays, Super, Sick days

    the other type of weekly wage is

    Set pay in

    Where driver pays a concern amount each night to Bail the taxi cab and the rest of the nights taking is the taxi drivers including any tips

    plus holidays, super, sick days, long service leave.

    Pay all fuel, Washing and cleaning of cab plus all their equipment.

    And can claim most back in tax as long as receipts and log back is kepted.

    Also City drivers are not allowed to be discriminated against, intimidate, harassed, threaten or sacked, by any owner while choosing which method unless taxi driver is being totally unreasonable during negotiation over such pay method,

    After two years Taxi drivers may revert back to the other options once the contract is up .

    And they must carry out all radio bookings and must not refuse a fare went vacant except as defined by the Taxi acts of the states ad terrority.

    This is very different for Country area taxis drivers across Australia who receive no super, no holiday pay, no entitlement to sickies, and no long service leave and are solely commission base,

    Also if the owner of the cab does not drive his taxi\’s cabs himself the taxi driver must pay the owners tax of GST and his own Tax as well at 46 percent of the total earnings this is a very fine print in the Tax laws.

    Read the protection of bailment ruling by Justice Hill 1997 Australia taxation, TWU versus Taxi owners which the taxation lost on a error in Justice Hills findings by stating Taxi drivers hand the pay in to the owners of the taxi cab not the owner handing the pay to taxi driver like normal employee to employer arrangement.

    What the error is the owner really collect the pay in from taxi driver who collects the nights taking\’s and taxi driver also does the share of the book work for the cab owner,

    which is similar to a cashier who collect the shifts taking calculates how much is made makes a record of it then the own or manager collect the takings.

    Their is also a degree of control mention but the reality is their a hell of lot of control over Taxi drivers by the owner who assigns what shift, what hours, What days, where to pick the cab up who to drop the cab off too or change over with and what hours to work especially over the weekend. and that is usually 12 hours.

    Under normal employer and employee arrange as define by federal work place laws and world wide this is defined as employee.

    Also you should know 1/3 third of taxi drivers were locked out of the industrial commission in 1984 who were not represented by the TWU when this pay arrangement was made you should also beware only the TWU is the sole body that is allow to represent Taxi drivers in any work place dispute or claim for a wage before the industrial commission and this is for life agreement that was made between TWU, Governments of the states and Taxi owners/ investors. in front of the federal commissioner the TWU president at the time then became the senator in federal parliament and has blocked every move along with Taxi council, Taxi association, and TWU Union from every setting up a proper wage.

  2. Every taxi driver who work\’s in city area\’s of every Australia State and Terrority wide is entitled to Weekly wage under the contract of determination Methods where two type of weekly wage is considered

    Commission Base payment

    45%Taxi driver first year for five day shift / 55% percent owner
    After two years of service is entitle to 50% percent taxi driver 50 % percent owner

    Plus Holidays, Super, Sick days

    the other type of weekly wage is

    Set pay in

    Where driver pays a concern amount each night to Bail the taxi cab and the rest of the nights taking is the taxi drivers including any tips

    plus holidays, super, sick days, long service leave.

    Pay all fuel, Washing and cleaning of cab plus all their equipment.

    And can claim most back in tax as long as receipts and log back is kepted.

    Also City drivers are not allowed to be discriminated against, intimidate, harassed, threaten or sacked, by any owner while choosing which method unless taxi driver is being totally unreasonable during negotiation over such pay method,

    After two years Taxi drivers may revert back to the other options once the contract is up .

    And they must carry out all radio bookings and must not refuse a fare went vacant except as defined by the Taxi acts of the states ad terrority.

    This is very different for Country area taxis drivers across Australia who receive no super, no holiday pay, no entitlement to sickies, and no long service leave and are solely commission base,

    Also if the owner of the cab does not drive his taxi\’s cabs himself the taxi driver must pay the owners tax of GST and his own Tax as well at 46 percent of the total earnings this is a very fine print in the Tax laws.

    Read the protection of bailment ruling by Justice Hill 1997 Australia taxation, TWU versus Taxi owners which the taxation lost on a error in Justice Hills findings by stating Taxi drivers hand the pay in to the owners of the taxi cab not the owner handing the pay to taxi driver like normal employee to employer arrangement.

    What the error is the owner really collect the pay in from taxi driver who collects the nights taking\’s and taxi driver also does the share of the book work for the cab owner,

    which is similar to a cashier who collect the shifts taking calculates how much is made makes a record of it then the own or manager collect the takings.

    Their is also a degree of control mention but the reality is their a hell of lot of control over Taxi drivers by the owner who assigns what shift, what hours, What days, where to pick the cab up who to drop the cab off too or change over with and what hours to work especially over the weekend. and that is usually 12 hours.

    Under normal employer and employee arrange as define by federal work place laws and world wide this is defined as employee.

    Also you should know 1/3 third of taxi drivers were locked out of the industrial commission in 1984 who were not represented by the TWU when this pay arrangement was made you should also beware only the TWU is the sole body that is allow to represent Taxi drivers in any work place dispute or claim for a wage before the industrial commission and this is for life agreement that was made between TWU, Governments of the states and Taxi owners/ investors. in front of the federal commissioner the TWU president at the time then became the senator in federal parliament and has blocked every move along with Taxi council, Taxi association, and TWU Union from every setting up a proper wage.

  3. Gosh I wish I earned what Chris did. He obviously lives in Sydney where there is a lot more work and less cabs / citizen.

    I personally am on set pay of $150 per 12 hour shift. I then have to pay for fuel as well $35.

    That means my expenses are a minimum of $185.00 for a 12 hour shift

    I get about 12 fares / day at most (8 – 9 usually).

    My meter totals are usually $180 – $230

    Let\’s say for comparison I make $230 on the meter (for a good day)… $230 – $150 – $35 = $45.00

    From $45 subtract 10% gst of $4.50 = $40.50

    From $40.50 subtract 20% tax of $8.10 which leaves me with $32.40 in the hand (clear after tax)

    So let\’s say I work 5 days a week having good days that gives me $162.00 clear in the hand.

    BTW, I work in Brisbane where there are so many taxis that you can not fit on to 90% of the taxi ranks. If you drive through the city for example every taxi rank is jammed full and overflowing. In fact Queen street rank is a good example of this. The drivers are double parked, sometimes triple parked blocking the road. I personally am unwilling to double park or break the law. Maybe that\’s why I earn so little.

    Please note that here in Brisbane due to the excess of drivers the taxi owners can ask whatever they want for the hire of the car because they know that someone will pay it. There are days where I make a loss for the day. In other words I would have been better off staying in bed and taking the day off instead of working.

    Due to the influx of student drivers when the standards were lowered to NIL to be a taxi driver my income has dropped to about 25% of what I used to earn. Apart from that I find that even though I am an Australian taxi driver I have passengers treating me as if I don\’t know where anything is and acting as if I\’m a student overseas driver.

    Since the lowering of the standards to NIL and my earnings dropping to 25% of what I used to earn, I have been kicked out of my unit where I lived since I can\’t pay my rent anymore. I now have to bum accommodation so I have somewhere to sleep for the night.

    I have searched for other places to work but I have been in the taxi industry for so long that no employer wants to know me due to having \”Taxi driver\” on my resume. I can\’t hide the fact otherwise I\’d have a huge gap on my resume.

  4. Does anyone not a taxi driver realise the following

    The average 5 shift x12 hours dayshift full time taxi driver earns on an average $11 per hour over a finacial year less GST and income tax?

    That taxi drivers get no superannuation
    That taxi drivers get no hoilday pay
    That taxi drivers get no superannuation.
    That Ohs doesnt apply to taxi drivers because thay are deemed self employed
    That a taxi driver can be sacked by depot management with no notice or reason given.
    That tips are virtually non existent for the average taxi driver.
    In short we work for less than 2/3rds of the legal minimum wage and receive no entitlements, and you hypocrites go on about OHS.
    Every time you take a taxi on day shift you are exploiting human labour , people with kids and morgatges or landlords.
    Would you work for less than $10 per hour?
    You would if thats all there was for you.
    We are on estep from bankruptcy every week.
    No one gives a fig, but if it was you….we would hear it from the moon.

    1. Chris, OHS law applies at all times that anyone is working, whatever their employment status. The management and enforcement of that law is what varies from one employer to another and from one industry to another. In some industries that do not embrace the company OHS obligations, it may be only possible to apply the personal OHS obligations which are to not harm oneself or others by your actions at work.

      This reality can be illustrated by some specific OHS guides for the taxi industry in Australia. – http://tinyurl.com/24gygqb or http://tinyurl.com/24z3tz2

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