Na­tional con­voys

Trans­port Work­ers Union pushes safe rates mes­sage

Owner Driver - - Front Page - – Greg Bush

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

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