Turn­ing the in­dus­try back­wards

Owner Driver - - Your Say -

I would like to re­spond to the ar­ti­cle ‘Truck­ing’s Turn­ing Point’ (Owner//Driver, Oc­to­ber 2018, p84) con­cern­ing changes to Chain Of Re­spon­si­bil­ity (COR) re­spon­si­bil­ity. I am sure that the speech by Sal Petroc­citto was greeted with much rau­cous ap­plause for de­liv­er­ing an in­dus­trycrush­ing speech, turn­ing back the in­dus­try 30 years.

“So, when you do go to court, you will ac­tu­ally walk in, for a change, in­no­cent un­til the reg­u­la­tor proves that you’re guilty,” he says.

“As op­posed to now when you walk in the door and you are guilty and you’ve got to dig your­self out of a hole.”

Hon­estly, does any­body other than the peo­ple who profit from the trans­port in­dus­tries know how hard it is to prove fault?

For ex­am­ple, just this very morn­ing in my course of du­ties I would arise at the ap­pointed time af­ter my man­dated long rest break to load. An im­pa­tient fork­lift op­er­a­tor an­nounced to me that he had to wait half an hour for me and that he was on a timetable. I sim­ply re­torted so was I. It was clear that the fork op­er­a­tor was an­noyed that I was not work­ing to his timetable.

Now, this seems rather sim­ple, but let us put some con­text to this. Just re­cently the com­pany has gone through some ma­jor safety changes where this fork­lift driver now has to ex­am­ine my ve­hi­cle for pos­si­ble de­fects, and en­sure fa­tigue and load re­straint is ac­cept­able. This be­gan with a course on how to fill out the pa­per­work. So op­er­a­tors were left to the whim of load­ing staff, who had no train­ing or un­der­stand­ing of the re­quire­ments of fa­tigue and main­te­nance. Yet they had been threat­ened to be moved aside should they fail to ad­here to the de­mands of the com­pany.

Of course we know what that means, but the onus is on the loader to prove this was the case while man­age­ment could sim­ply pre­tend they would pro­vide po­si­tions.

Just how hard do you think the au­thor­i­ties are go­ing to work to val­i­date the truth of an ac­cu­sa­tion such as that? I be­lieve as much time as they did be­fore COR leg­is­la­tion

“They cru­ci­fied some­body so why go to the ef­fort of fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion?”

was cre­ated and that would be ‘SFA’. Af­ter all, they cru­ci­fied some­body so why go to the ef­fort of fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion? The pub­lic are pla­cated, the au­thor­i­ties ap­pear to have acted and govern­ment looks to be do­ing some­thing for safety. So why go to the ef­fort?

And here is the crux of the mat­ter – the trans­port in­dus­try in Aus­tralia is the only in­dus­try in the world where the peo­ple ac­tu­ally do­ing the job are the most dis­re­spected of the en­tire in­dus­try. Now I know, plenty point out if there were no op­er­a­tors to ac­tu­ally do the job, trans­port would not ex­ist. Yet, even op­er­a­tors do not re­spect each other.

In a le­gal sys­tem that proudly pro­claims in­no­cent un­til proven guilty, a change of COR reg­u­la­tions to in­no­cent un­til proven guilty is ac­claimed as a great im­prove­ment to an in­dus­try where the peo­ple in the front­line are frowned upon by its own in­dus­try and as­sumed guilty due en­tirely to their sta­tus in the pro­fes­sion. So when the au­thor­i­ties get to the courts where the op­er­a­tor is served two to five years in the pen for breach­ing his rest pe­riod, it’s due to the fact he was pres­sured to cut short his man­dated rest break be­cause a fork­lift op­er­a­tor’s time­frame was in­con­ve­nienced by the op­er­a­tor.

How does he prove to a party who al­ready as­sumes he is, for lack of bet­ter terms, a drugged killer truck driver that he was pres­sured to breach by load­ing staff or man­age­ment?

Hon­estly, I could not read any fur­ther as clearly changes to COR ben­e­fit ev­ery­body, ex­cept safety and the op­er­a­tors who ac­tu­ally do the job.

I am as­tounded that peo­ple would pub­li­cally de­clare th­ese changes as good for the in­dus­try. For us who were in­volved in the in­dus­try be­fore the ad­vent of COR laws were in­tro­duced, the prob­lems with hold­ing shonky man­agers and own­ers to ac­count was due en­tirely to the onus of proof.

Thanks to all those com­pany own­ers and bosses who de­cided how the in­dus­try could be safer at a rea­son­able ex­pense to them. Thanks to those com­pany bosses for the new safety stan­dards they im­pose on their labour. I am sure all those drivers who at­tended the pre­sen­ta­tion re­ported also ap­plauded and an­nounced their full agree­ment to the new changes. Oh wait, the drivers were out earn­ing the money that paid for the lit­tle chest­beat­ing ex­er­cise on how to dis­tance one­self from the de­mands of safety.

Really, just print out a list of jobs were the com­pany own­ers pro­vide the stim­u­lants to do the job prefer­ably, not­ing the type of stim­u­lant, so we can get the em­ployer who pro­vides the stim­u­lant of choice. Maybe the govern­ment could be lob­bied to pro­vide pill test­ing in all the weigh­bridges 24/7. Af­ter all, that is the new nor­mal isn’t it?

And we can sit back and watch the car­nage start. Just in­cred­i­ble, that peo­ple would swal­low the be­lief that this stated change in a le­gal sys­tem of in­no­cent un­til proven guilty ac­tu­ally will make the sys­tem more ac­count­able.

S. Her­ald

(Full name with­held by re­quest)

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