Fair Work Australia must investigate company over drug charge

Release date: 23/09/2010

 The Transport Workers Union is calling for Fair Work Australia to investigate a Penrith truck company and client requirements after two of its drivers were charged after being alleged to have taken drugs before being involved in unrelated fatal crashes in Sydney’s west.

 The Transport Workers Union national secretary, Tony Sheldon, said that the incidents showed there were operators in the industry that should not be allowed to put a truck on the road.

“Whilst few drivers might break fatigue laws and even fewer take drugs. At the end of the day, it cannot be condoned,” Mr Sheldon said.

“But if there is an incident where a number of drivers from the same company are taking drugs at work, then we really need to look at the workplace and client culture. We have enough people killed in our industry already without this being allowed to happen,” Mr Sheldon said.

Mr Sheldon said that although police and WorkCover investigated the Penrith company at the time, it was the drivers who at the end of the day bear the burden.

“We need to see the Fair Work Ombudsmen investigate the chain and get to the root cause of the problem and that is either the clients or operators putting economic pressure on the transport industry,” Mr Sheldon said.
“An RTA Survey in July found that the rate of speeding trucks had increased by 35 per cent over a 10 year period, showing that economic pressures on drivers has increased,” Mr Sheldon said.

“Since 1989 there have been 3835 deaths in the road transport industry and according to the NRMA, over 300 people have been killed every year. The situation on our roads is dire and we need to come to a resolution on Safe Rates as a matter of urgency.

“Drivers are not guaranteed full-cost recovery – there is a real need for the immediate implement of safe rates and conditions covering both employee and owner-drivers. We need to see drivers get full cost recovery so they are not forced to undertake unsafe working practices to make a living,” Mr Sheldon said.

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