TWU on the aftermath of Fairfax investigations
THE CRISIS in our industry was brought into sharp focus recently with a Fairfax Media investigation shining a spotlight on trucking.
The in-depth report highlighted issues that drivers face every single day, but that employer groups and governments like to ignore.
The report highlighted the increase in deaths from truck crashes adding: “Trucks kill a disproportionate number of people. Heavy trucks make up 2.4 per cent of all registered vehicles in Australia, account for 7 per cent of all road kilometres travelled and yet are involved in 16 per cent of road crash fatalities.”
It listed a litany of failings including vehicles overloaded, vehicles not maintained properly, drivers under pressure to drive long hours and speed, and driving schools giving trucking licences without adequate training.
“Fatigue and speeding are still the official causes of trucking accidents, but speak to drivers and they’ll tell you the real killer is pressure – pressure from the boss, pressure to keep your clap shut about safety and pressure to keep moving,” states the articles.
The reaction of employer groups and the Federal Government to the investigation showed they have their heads firmly stuck in the sand over the crisis we are facing.
Employer groups were also silent on the role they and their own members are playing in ripping drivers off and piling pressure on them, despite some of these trucking companies being named in the investigation.
One transport company which featured in the investigation was a Leocata, based in Tatura.
Their former driver was interviewed about being forced to drive long hours which were not recorded in his logbook.
“He was eventually stood down and fired. He believes he paid the price for speaking out about safety,” says the Fairfax article.
❝ The real issue for drivers and transport operators is what can be done to alleviate pressure on an industry clearly being financially squeezed by wealthy clients at the top.
Yet association groups have still made no mention of tackling companies, including its own members, which game the system.
The ATA, Road Freight NSW and the Federal Government in response cited the new Chain of Responsibility laws – despite these laws having failed miserably to date.
When a transport company like Blenners which had 742 charges laid against it over fatigue and Chain of Responsibility breaches ends up walking away with every charge dropped, it is clear that this system it simply not working.
The clients in the case also escaped any charges. But the drivers at the company didn’t walk away – they copped the entire blame – with $65,000 in fines laid against 45 drivers.
This is clearly not an effective way of addressing the pressure in trucking.
The real issue for drivers and transport operators is what can be done to alleviate pressure on an industry clearly being financially squeezed by wealthy clients at the top.
Some employer groups refuse to recognise this problem and oppose any measures holding clients to account.
But drivers are adamant that this is the best way to tackle many of the problems in transport – and they are campaigning against the likes of Aldi for better accountability and safer roads.
RACE TO THE BOTTOM: TWU continues its protests at Aldi stores.
OPINION: Tony Sheldon, National Secretary of the Transport Workers Union