Transport hitting the wall
Transport companies continue to fall by the wayside due to unreasonable trading terms and poor freight rates. writes
WHAT A MONTH it’s been so far. But where to start? How about the brain fade from the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) calling for rego labels on heavy vehicles to be scrapped to save operators some money. What would this achieve? Maybe $3.50?
Are these people serious? With the demise of transport companies left right and centre at the minute, the best our peak body can come up with is rego labels?
Recently, a national stalwart in John L Pierce closed its doors on its interstate and general freight operations after being a 65-year icon in this industry. The list of iconic transport companies that have fallen by the wayside is too large to list. We would no doubt need three full pages.
Sad isn’t it? We are seeing more and more small operators and ownerdrivers going to the wall due to harsh and unreasonable trading terms and poor freight rates. What about the fact that the major players are cutting their workforce and slashing costs to try to survive this economic downturn?
Toll and IPEC in particular are bleeding money along with TNT and StarTrack to name a few. How about the fact that they can’t attract decent candidates to the industry, hence they are increasingly turning to the exploitation of foreign workers.
This is because many reasonable drivers are walking away in disgust at the intolerable conditions that we are forced to work under.
Or is it that the major transport companies are blatantly turning a blind eye to their chain of responsibility obligations and demanding drivers keep driving while they are fatigued, keep operating vehicles that are far from up to scratch, or that they ignore their own body clock and keep going at any or all costs?
No, they are going to campaign for rego labels to be scrapped, as it is such a huge burden on the industry.
Just look away so we can keep the focus off what is really going on in this broken- down, morally bankrupt industry.
Maybe we could have an ATA shindig where we hand out awards to people for doing nothing except bleed the industry for all its worth.
We could nominate our own safety truck for an award. Don’t worry about Rod Hannifey and his TruckRight Industry Vehicle. We will win because we own the judges.
If it wasn’t so depressing it would be funny. This industry has always suffered due to the apathy among us. We have always been our own worst enemy.
Take, for instance, the current Award negotiations in the Fair Work Commission. Most of you would be totally unaware of the submissions being put forward by the ATA and NatRoad, seeking to decrease our entitlement to fair and decent remuneration for the job we do.
They’re urging for load/unload entitlements to be scrapped as they are trying to deceive the Commission into thinking that loading and unloading is covered in the kilometre rate. Seriously, they know absolutely nothing about what we actually do for a living, every day and night.
According to their mantra, we shouldn’t be paid for it anyway.
You might be wondering about the ATA seeing as how they have always argued that they do not involve themselves in award negotiations.
That’s actually not true. They have always been involved in the Fair Work Commission conferences and award negotiations but they do it covertly, by using a member to state their case through a submission by an ATAappointed industrial lawyer. It’s pretty pathetic, really, when they could just be honest and use their name and own their attempts to drag us down.
We know that these associations have always been sly and subversive and will use whatever means necessary to drag our Award conditions down while feathering their own nests.
Most drivers have no idea that presently the Australian Industry Group, NatRoad, the ARTIO, the ATA, the Australian Business Industrial Council, Business SA, the Australian Federation of Employers and even the Pharmacy Guild of Australia all have on foot applications before Fair Work to alter, downgrade or replace conditions that have been hard fought and won in the past.
Who are some of these groups, you may ask? Truth be known they have been attacking our pay and conditions for decades right under our noses because, as the old saying goes, “I negotiate my own terms, I don’t need an association or union”.
Well, you keep telling yourselves that and they will keep ripping you off at will.
Last year saw the demise of Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT), which exposed the shenanigans of this lot. But we still have a hard time getting drivers to stand together and be counted. Go figure.
If you haven’t noticed all the road trains running around like Mr Whippy vans, it’s only a matter of time before they make their presence felt.
Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide roads are alive with slowmoving, extra-long mobile roadblocks that everyone seems to be very worried about nowadays. The amount of people that ask me about them is testament to that.
How do you explain the need for them when there isn’t one? How do you defend the indefensible?
These are not the roads and highways of Western Australia and the Northern Territory. These are the overpopulated roads, drenched in traffic hazards and hold-ups.
Call them A-doubles or a ‘long vehicle’, it doesn’t really matter when you are trying to pass one, especially when the three-laner isn’t long enough for you to pass a car with a road speed-governed B-double, let alone trying to get round a road train.
It’s not like we didn’t know the lunatics would eventually take over the asylum, but we were too naive and gullible. We thought there would be a whole new world of infrastructure accompanying the advent of these industry destroyers that would be set upon an unprepared motoring public.
Where are the parking bays that can accommodate trucks of this length? How do we move them off the road in an emergency? Where do we pull off the road when the driver needs a few hours’ sleep, when the fog is thick, and there is no moon in the sky, and all the parking bays only have room for those that can attempt a reverse park?
The B-triples running over on the Western Highway around Dimboola, Nhill and Kaniva make it hard to get around them safely, and it’s lucky so far there hasn’t been the inevitable incident. Sure, it might be really important for those that need to get a chubby steering one of these monsters, but the rest of us didn’t ask to be put in the mix with them, and neither did our families and loved ones.
By the time you get to read this month’s Owner//Driver it’ll be just past the first anniversary of one of the saddest days in road transport history.
It was 12 months ago that a huge mistake was made by the minority made up of fools that were conned into assisting the shutdown of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT).
Incredible as that may seem, here we are, 12 months later, and not one thing has improved, not one thing has become better, and we still have people chasing money, dying in huge numbers and trucking companies going to the wall.
We still have idiots that can’t see that they are going broke slowly. Only a fool keeps doing the same thing while expecting a different result.
THE VOICE OF THE TRUCK DRIVER