TWU convoys push Safe Rates message

By: Greg Bush


Nationwide convoys have called on the Federal Government to reintroduce a road safety watchdog, similar to the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal which was abolished in 2016

TWU convoys push Safe Rates message
The TWU convoy hits the streets of Sydney on July 15.

 

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 over 30 percent of all workplace deaths. The union says transport has been the deadliest industry for three consecutive years.

TWU acting 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.

"Today truck drivers and their families are angry.

"Australians in their hundreds keep dying in truck crashes, and the Federal Government is doing nothing," Kaine said during the rally in Sydney.

"And they’re rage-filled because two years ago this Federal Government abolished the one thing that was making a difference."

TWU acting national secretary Michael Kaine during the Sydney convoy.

Kaine was referring to the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, which the Coalition 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."

A section of the Perth convoy.

NSW state opposition leader Michael Daley says 'safe rates save lives' is not just a slogan.

"It’s a simple of fact. Truck drivers are being put at risk every day because of commercial practices, and it’s not acceptable," the state MP says.

"There are comprehensive safety laws in all industries right across Australia, but in the transport industry there is a massive weakness. And that weakness is making our unsafe.

"When you pack the kids into the Commodore and you head off on your holidays and you come across truck drivers on the road, you want to know that they’re being well paid, that they’re rested, that they’re not taking drugs, that the trucks are being properly maintained.

" At the moment that is not the case. Everyone who hops in a car right across Australia needs to know that the Turnbull Government and the Liberals across Australia have made this a matter of ideology," Daley says.

"It’s not a matter of ideology, it’s very simple. It’s about fairness and it’s about safety.

"The Federal Government were on the cusp of fixing this problem, and then they pulled the pin on it and that’s completely and utterly unacceptable.

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."

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