Trans­port hit­ting the wall

Trans­port com­pa­nies con­tinue to fall by the way­side due to un­rea­son­able trad­ing terms and poor freight rates. writes

Owner Driver - - Owner/Driver - The Interstater To send feed­back, e-mail The Interstater at thein­ter­

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.


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