Transport Workers Union pushes safe rates message
MORE THAN 300 TRUCK DRIVERS, their families and supporters protested in all major capitals on Sunday, July 16, demanding an end to pressure in the industry which the Transport Workers Union (TWU) says is killing hundreds of people on Australia’s roads each year. Drivers took to Sydney’s Harbour Bridge, Melbourne’s Westgate Bridge, the Brisbane’s Gateway Motorway, Riverside Drive in Perth and Bonython Park in Adelaide.
The TWU cites Safe Work Australia statistics released in June revealing that the transport industry remains the deadliest in Australia, with transport workers accounting for more than 30 per cent of all workplace deaths. The union says transport has been the deadliest industry for three consecutive years.
Incoming TWU national secretary Michael Kaine says the big turnout for the convoys in capital cities across the country were indicative that truck drivers and their families wanted to make a big statement.
“Truck drivers are the backbone of the Australian economy, carrying freight in our cities, in our regional areas and from one side of this massive nation to another,” Kaine says. “Today truck drivers and their families are angry.
“Australians in their hundreds keep dying in truck crashes, and the
Federal Government is doing nothing. And they’re rage-filled because two years ago this Federal Government abolished the one thing that was making a difference.”
Kaine was referring to the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, which the Turnbull Government abolished in April 2016.
“The road safety watchdog was starting to do its work in making a difference on our roads,” he continues.
“Since this Federal Government abolished that watchdog, 388 Australians have lost their lives.
“Another report this week says this is the deadliest industry in the country. Forty percent of workplace deaths occur in this industry, 4,410 serious injuries a year in this industry, and the Federal Government is sitting on its hands.
“The key here is the government knows the answer. Twenty-five years of evidence has told us that it’s those that are taking the economic benefit out of this industry – the banks, the oil companies, the manufacturers, major retailers like Aldi who just refuse to sit down and talk about safety in its supply chain. They’re the ones that are at fault, but rather the Federal Government says that more fines should be put on drivers.”
Sydney-based truck driver Kevin Crisp says, although he works for a company that believes in paying its employees good money, he also believes there are other drivers forced to cut corners to put food on the table.
“When I’m out on that road I need to know that the other person coming the other way, especially in the trucks, are on good money.
“They’re not sleeping, they’re not being pushed to go out and do other things and cut corners. We need to be safe, and whatever needs to happen, needs to happen.”
Owner-driver Paul O’Neill who spoke at the Queensland convoy in Queensland says everyone wants to make a profit.
“But it’s time for the big end of town to stop exploiting working people to boost the return to their stakeholders,” O’Neill says. “If you want your load delivered safely and responsibly, you have to be willing to pay a safe and responsible rate.”
The TWU convoy hits the streets of Sydney on July 15