“The TWU have been campaigning for a safer road transport industry for more than 20 years,” Mr Kaine said.
"Road transport workers are 15 times more likely to be killed at work than any other worker in Australia and 330 people are killed every year in truck crashes on our roads.
“We've seen the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) try time and again to bring retailers like Coles to heel using competition laws with little success to date.
“We need to do what decades of evidence has said - lift the deadly economic pressures that companies like Coles place on transport drivers and the operators that engage them.
“Only the RSRT has the power to do that - it's life and death that matters not the niceties of competition law.”
As one NSW truck driver, John Waltis said, “I’ve been to 52 funerals (of trucking colleagues killed in crashes). I don’t want to go to any more.”
Mr Kaine said new national polling by Essential Research showed 90% of Australians say it's important the Government take action to make the trucking industry safer.
“73% of Australians believe companies such as Coles that put economic pressure on truck drivers to drive longer and faster should be held accountable for the impact this has on road safety,” Mr Kaine said.
“With 62% of people admitting to have been injured in a road crash or know someone who has been injured or killed in a road crash, this is something the government cannot afford to ignore.
“We need a greater focus on road safety in this country, not a weaker one. The Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal needs to be preserved.”
The RSRT is a national watchdog which has the power to intervene when transport industry clients use economic pressure to force drivers to speed, skip rest breaks or illegally overload their vehicles in order to meet unrealistic delivery conditions.
A 2012 industry survey found of drivers carting for Coles:
- 46% of drivers reported economic pressure to skip rest breaks;
- 28% were pressured to speed; and
- 26% were pressured to carry illegally overweight loads.