Defusing "Mobile Bombs" – National Dispute in Oil, Fuel and Gas

Release date: 29/04/2014

A national tribunal will today consider minimum safety standards for Australian petrol tankers after nationwide research revealed 1 in 4 tanker drivers were pressured to speed and 1 in 2 drivers reported inadequate brake inspections.
TWU MEDIA RELEASE, 29 April 2014

Transport Workers Union Assistant National Secretary Michael Kaine said many petrol tankers were literally “mobile bombs.”
“Industry research shows the tanker fleet is old and unreliable, and tanker drivers are routinely pressured to drive too fast or too long,” Mr Kaine said
“33% of drivers report they’ve been threatened with job losses if they report serious safety flaws.
“And 45% of drivers say employers routinely delay brake maintenance, with one saying his tanker was 13,000 kilometres overdue for servicing.”
“We’ve seen the consequences in crashes like Batemans Bay in 2009, when four people died, and Mona Vale in 2013, with two people killed.
“That’s why the union has lodged a national dispute on tanker safety, and why we’re calling for a national safety standard before the Road Safety Tribunal today.”
Mr Kaine said the dispute would be heard today (April 29) before the Federal Government’s Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal in Sydney.
The union would seek enforceable national safety standards to deliver:
  • Safe Rates – contracting changes to prevent retailers like Coles/Shell from pressuring drivers to speed or skip rest breaks;
  • Safe maintenance – adequate funding for brake maintenance, anti-rollover equipment and a requirement that unsafe tankers are removed from the roads
  • A ban on “hot seating” - where tanker drivers simply swap seats with each other to avoid technical breaches of maximum driving times;
  • Driver training – all drivers to be properly trained in safety management and anti-rollover techniques.
  • Mandatory reporting – clients and companies to publish compliance records on fatigue management, safe driving hours and maintenance.
“Clients like Coles and Shell will fight tooth and nail to oppose these changes,” Mr Kaine said.
“To Coles, road safety is just red tape. But for most Australians, it’s a necessity.”
The Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT) was set up in 2012 to address pressures on drivers to drive unsafely. The RSRT can issue binding orders on industry to lift safety standards.
Truck driving is Australia’s most dangerous industry, with a fatality rate 15 times higher than the national average for other jobs.
There are around 1,500 on-road oil tankers in operation in Australia. Every year around 330 people are killed in truck-related crashes.

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