Driv­ers are pay­ing a high price

Time to take a stand on over-loaded garbage trucks

Big Rigs - - COLUMN - RICHARD OLSEN TWU NSW State Sec­re­tary

EV­ERY day, heavy ve­hi­cle driv­ers are fol­low­ing the rules, com­pli­ant to the reg­u­la­tions. Yet they are still ap­par­ently the tar­get for the in­dus­try’s prob­lems.

In the ACT, TWU mem­bers in the waste in­dus­try have stared down their man­age­ment about over­weight garbage trucks.

At any in­spec­tion sta­tion, pull a truck over the scales and the au­thor­i­ties will fine the driver when the truck mea­sures as over­weight.

Driv­ers of­fered the man­age­ment of a lo­cal waste trans­port com­pany the chance to help them be com­pli­ant with weight rules and were ad­vised that non compliance was not a safety is­sue.

Driv­ers who were likely to face the kick­ing from compliance-minded au­thor­i­ties took the trucks off the road un­til they re­ceived as­sur­ances that the com­pany was in­stalling equip­ment that al­lowed a driver to mon­i­tor the weight.

I re­cently fronted the govern­ment in­quiry into the is­sues faced on the WestCon­nex site in Syd­ney. WestCon­nex is one of the NSW Govern­ment’s big­gest road con­struc­tion projects.

Driv­ers in one par­tic­u­lar com­pany have faced over­load­ing is­sues and more. We are con­cerned that fa­tigue breaks were not be­ing taken or not be­ing recorded or mon­i­tored in compliance with chain of re­spon­si­bil­ity laws and more.

We also found ev­i­dence of wage theft with un­der­pay­ment of 35 em­ploy­ees. The com­pany did rec­tify the is­sues by back pay­ing em­ploy­ees around $80,000 but now around 20 owner driv­ers and 40 em­ploy­ees are short around $500,000 be­cause the com­pany has gone un­der.

Driv­ers are fac­ing the re­al­ity of be­ing pushed into hav­ing to be re­spon­si­ble for dodgy prac­tices, bad main­te­nance, bad loading, wait­ing times, the lies of man­age­ment from com­pa­nies all through the sup­ply chain. Driv­ers are los­ing jobs, pay, and their lives.

Right now, mem­bers and the TWU face the anger of em­ploy­ers through fines and other crim­i­nal sanc­tions when it comes to bar­gain­ing for bet­ter con­di­tions and bet­ter pay.

We all know the sys­tem is bro­ken. We have been say­ing this for years. We have a plan to change that in trans­port.

We all know busi­nesses have too much power, work is in­se­cure, we have the threats of con­tract changes hang­ing over our heads con­stantly, un­der­cut­ting is grow­ing and grow­ing and the govern­ment has at­tacked our right to fight and to strike.

This is why the TWU and it’s mem­bers will con­tinue to work to change the rules.

For a truck driver to pro­vide for their fam­ily it does not need to be that dif­fi­cult to get be­hind the wheel.

For driv­ers we need the whole sup­ply chain to be ac­count­able from the board room down.

PHOTO: JOEL CARRETT

TROU­BLE BREW­ING: NSW Premier Gla­dys Bere­jik­lian in­spects the WestCon­nex New M5 St Peters in­ter­change.

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