Ele­phant in the room

The Bank­ing Royal Com­mis­sion is weed­ing out dodgy ad­vis­ers, so how about one on the truck­ing in­dus­try?

Owner Driver - - The Interstater - To send feed­back, e-mail The In­ter­stater at thein­ter­stater@gmail.com

THE GLOVES ARE off. It’s time we de­manded a Royal Com­mis­sion into the truck­ing in­dus­try to es­tab­lish the truth and the depth of ‘wage theft’ in this coun­try. If there is one thing we should have learnt by now, with the ad­vent of the Bank­ing Royal Com­mis­sion, it’s that it is the one true way of get­ting to the bot­tom of the prob­lem. Put sim­ply, it will be closer to get­ting a re­solve that will fi­nally get the re­mu­ner­a­tion every truck driver de­serves.

Clearly there is no other mech­a­nism to fully chase down the end­less rort­ing and rip-off this in­dus­try is so pro­tec­tive of. It’s en­demic, it’s far reach­ing and it’s re­lent­less. It is the ele­phant in the room and it sim­ply must stop. It has gone on for so long that it is as if it’s not only ex­pected, it is com­pul­sory.

Us driv­ers know it, the Trans­port Work­ers Union knows it, the em­ployer as­so­ci­a­tions pro­mote it and the em­ploy­ers bank on it. Let’s just lay all our cards on the ta­ble and let the facts and data fall where they do and let those guilty be dealt with as they would have us dealt with if the roles were re­v­ersed. It’s time and it’s well over­due!

There are so few meet­ing the min­i­mum re­quire­ments un­der the Fed­eral Award, so very few, and that has to change – yes­ter­day. After read­ing the di­rec­tion War­ren Clark of NatRoad is hell­bent in pur­su­ing, it is clear they have much more time and money from a much more will­ing fi­nan­cial sup­port net­work than we are com­ing from, so far back down the field. So we have no choice but to in­sist on a Royal Com­mis­sion.

We carry more freight per trip now than ever be­fore, we spend more time work­ing per week than we ever have, and we sim­ply aren’t get­ting paid every cent that we are en­ti­tled to. We are never go­ing to get to­gether to sup­port each other the way the em­ployer bod­ies do, so we need help and we need it now.

EM­PLOYER RECORDS

Surely by now it must have be­come ap­par­ent of the dif­fi­cul­ties in­volved in try­ing to en­tice a driver to come and work for you and drive your truck. It’s get­ting harder – but it doesn’t have to be.

What will it take to make it ob­vi­ous for po­ten­tial em­ploy­ers to re­alise that when they ask a driver about their his­tory and a VicRoads print­out and per­haps do a med­i­cal, maybe it’s time for all the good and de­cent com­pa­nies out there, that per­haps are worth driv­ing for, to put their cards out on the ta­ble.

Maybe they should put their em­ploy­ment records up as well. Show their abil­ity to hold on to driv­ers, to put up their his­tory of em­ploy­ing driv­ers over a long pe­riod rather than only fo­cus on how many jobs the prospec­tive driver has had.

Why don’t we dis­cuss how many driv­ers the em­ployer has em­ployed over the last 12 months, two or three years? Be­cause to­day there is more to em­ploy­ing a driver than just of­fer­ing up a job.

Em­ploy­ment and em­ploy­ing good staff is a two-way street. How in­cred­i­ble is it when find­ing good staff is get­ting so much harder that the em­ployer still wants to know so much about a po­ten­tial em­ployee, yet is loath to tell that po­ten­tial em­ployee the rea­son they should be happy to come across.

The ques­tion is: should there be more hon­esty in plac­ing a ‘driver wanted ad?’

Heres’ an ex­am­ple of the con­trary: “MC driver wanted, me­chan­i­cal abil­ity an ad­van­tage (be­cause she’s an old banger); Melb/Syd/Bris but you can live any­where (be­cause you won’t get home much any­way); taut­liner work when not tow­ing the old flat tops, or maybe even the tip­pers or log jinker; paid a de­cent dol­lar while mo­bile (when sta­tion­ary, not so much – if at all; Award wages mean we wouldn’t be able to get work off of our com­peti­tors.”

SA SPIN DOC­TORS

You may have no­ticed we missed the dead­line for last month’s col­umn, so I hope you all didn’t just skim over, or worse still, skip read­ing the very im­por­tant and in­cred­i­bly sig­nif­i­cant words that were gath­ered to­gether on the page this col­umn nor­mally graces. Why? Be­cause it was ex­tremely im­por­tant that driv­ers ev­ery­where wit­nessed the mind­set and mis­guided be­liefs of truck own­ers and their spin doc­tors.

How can any­one in truck­ing re­fute the need for more reg­u­lar and more reg­i­mented road­wor­thy in­spec­tions in South Aus­tralia – and every other Aus­tralian State and Ter­ri­tory – so as to be at least equal if not bet­ter than New South Wales?

As they say in the clas­sics, and as we have all read that other min­ion from the South Aus­tralian Road Trans­port As­so­ci­a­tion (SARTA) say over and over: “If you aren’t do­ing any­thing wrong, you’ve got noth­ing to worry about.” So how about they start get­ting their house in or­der be­cause they have been very vo­cal and sup­port­ive of ex­tra road­side in­ter­cep­tions of law en­force­ment so as to check and main­tain the level of com­pli­ance among us truck driv­ers. Why rat­tle on about how un­nec­es­sary an an­nual road­wor­thy in­spec­tion would be in the great state of SA?

If we have to present in a drive-wor­thy con­di­tion daily/nightly, then surely we should ex­pect the same of the trucks we are given, be­cause cur­rently there is an ob­vi­ous de­fi­ciency in what is deemed road­wor­thy and safe, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing the huge in­creases in weight car­ry­ing abil­ity, length laws and the in­creas­ingly dis­mal, sus­pen­sion-de­stroy­ing roads.

LOG­BOOK APP THE GO

There have been an in­creas­ing num­ber of emails re­ceived about work di­aries of late. Much of it is from those try­ing to get their heads around the ba­sic fa­tigue man­age­ment 14-hour BS, and of course those still smart enough to hold firm and stick to the 12 hours.

There is so much angst about how to keep it all le­gal and tidy. After much learn­ing, by us­ing and test­ing, it comes as no sur­prise to those al­ready in the know it is bla­tantly ob­vi­ous that there is no bet­ter way or fool­proof way of en­sur­ing your book tal­lies up cor­rectly at that cru­cial mo­ment.

So the next time you are try­ing your best to stave off an in­fringe­ment no­tice, and heavy fine, use the Log­book Checker in your smart­phone apps. It is a lit­tle hard to use at first, but ei­ther find a friend that has used it and un­der­stands it enough to ex­plain it to you. Or you can sim­ply YouTube it and see just how easy it can be.

It is, with­out doubt, worth every cent to save you a small for­tune in fines.

“We sim­ply aren’t get­ting paid every cent that we are en­ti­tled to”

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