AWU drives better deal for Traffic Controllers

The Australian Workers’ Union has ensured new Traffic Controllers will be paid a fairer rate following the Fair Work Commission’s approval of a new agreement with traffic management company Go Traffic.

Across the industry, new Traffic Controllers are usually paid the entry-level rate of the Construction and General Award (CW1). This rate is intended to apply to trainees learning on the job, despite the fact that Traffic Controllers typically have a range of qualifications before they start work, and receive no documented training and little supervision on site.

After the AWU raised the alarm with the Fair Work Commission, Go Traffic have agreed that no traffic controllers will be paid the CW1 level. Instead, they will jump to the next stage in the classification structure, which takes account of existing training and qualifications.

AWU Construction Organiser Jade Campbell welcomes the FWC’s ruling.

“Although Traffic Controllers come onto the job with qualifications, employers expect to pay them like unqualified trainees, while at the same time failing to offer any training,” she says.

“The AWU has challenged multiple agreements with employers who try to have it both ways in an attempt to pay Traffic Controllers as little as possible. It’s not good enough.”

Training for Traffic Controllers more broadly is set to be reformed this year under a nationwide update or “harmonisation” of Austroads’ Guide to Temporary Traffic Management (AGTTM). This will offer more comprehensive training, and qualifications over the three road categories: low-speed low-volume roads, major arterial and freeway/highway high-speed roads.

The updated AGTTM will give traffic controllers more experience before working in the higher-risk settings, helping to ensure their safety and the safety of other workers and road users.

Jade says the new training structure will go a long way to supporting traffic controllers, ensuring they can safely manage traffic hazards and develop their skills in a safer environment.

“Traffic Controllers have some of the most dangerous jobs in construction-four have tragically been killed on the job in Victoria since 2021,” Jade says.

“But they’re among the lowest-paid workers in the industry, despite being among the first workers on the job and the last off. They’re also a predominantly casual workforce, which makes it harder for them to speak up.

“This ruling means companies will be required to pay their staff a fairer rate and ensure their safety on the job.”

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