Freight industry brakes applied
COST INCREASES, FINES, PAY RATES SPARK NATIONWIDE PROTESTS
We are concerned about fuel prices, high registration fees, soaring costs and have a problem getting drivers.” — Dave Buntak
IN JULY 2008, the Australian freight industry threatened to come to a stop.
Many owner-drivers across the country pulled up the brakes from July 28 for two weeks to protest against a problem that had been around for years.
Started by the Australian Long Distance Owner Driver’s Association, the shutdown called for higher rates for owner drivers.
It was also a protest against recent cost increases to truck registration and increases to logbook fines.
Participating drivers met in towns and cities across the country in early August.
About 65 drivers gathered in Clybucca in New South Wales on the first day. Another group came together in Tamworth. About 50 drivers met in Adelaide, with 12 drivers taking their trucks through the city in a protest convoy. An estimated 150 drivers came to the shutdown meeting in Townsville.
“ALDODA’s first meeting for the shutdown at Rocklea, with the mainstream media coverage and a convoy planned to run through Brisbane city streets, was to become one of the most visible signs of the national transport shutdown,” Big Rigs reported in its August 8 edition.
“While several hundred drivers and supports had gathered to hear the address, only 40-45% of vehicles took part in the protest convoy.
“They ran under police escort which facilitated a smooth run through traffic and traffic lights.”
In pages of coverage, Big Rigs told the stories of worried drivers.
Gail and Philip Smith, owners of G Smith Trucking in Cleveland, named fuel prices as their biggest concern.
Kev Parker, one of the drivers who gathered in Townsville, named registration costs and logbook fine hikes as a concern. Dave Buntak shared his concerns. “We are concerned about fuel prices, high registration fees, soaring costs and have a problem getting drivers,” he told Big Rigs.
Many drivers who took part in the shutdown returned to work before the two weeks had finished.
In response to the shutdown, the National Transport Commission said it would investigate driver remuneration rates and payment methods.