Turning the industry backwards
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.
(Full name withheld by request)