TWU

In the name of safety

Release date: 1/04/2012

The passing of the Road Safety Remuneration Bill is a landmark decision that should lead to a safer trucking industry, writes Tony Sheldon.

Ownerdriver Magazine, April 2012

Owner-Drivers, their families and every Australian road user can finally look forward to a safer trucking industry by standing together following the passage of the Road Safety Remuneration Bill through Federal Parliament on March 20.

 

A legislative and industry campaign that has been building for over 20 years can thank the Gillard Government for landmark legislation that will make the roads that all Australians travel on safer. Drivers and transport companies standing together can ensure decent pay and conditions and finally begin to hold major retailers like Coles (32 percent of the entire road transport task is undertaken on behalf of the retail industry) to account for the safe transportation of their goods.

 

All truckies and their families know only too well the stresses and dangers in the industry. It is a sad fact that we all know of a family member, a friend, or a mate from the road who has been killed or seriously injured in a truck crash.

Transport Workers Union (TWU) truckie delegates campaigned side-byside with drivers across the industry, transport companies, committed politicians, families of people who were killed or injured in truck accidents and communities across Australia for this legislation.

 

One such truckie who played a crucial role in the entire campaign is Frank Black. Many of you will know Frank as the elected owner-driver representative on the Australian Trucking Association (ATA). Frank explained to the media recently the pressures in the industry and the importance of safe rates.

 

"This legislation will make a real difference to truckles across Australia. Each and every day I speak to ownerdrivers who tell me of the pressures from clients to meet dangerous deadlines. Guys who can't afford to take their trucks off the road for essential maintenance, as their rates of pay are so low. Now truckies will finally have a place to go when they are not getting treated fairly by clients or by trucking companies."

 

POLITICIANS ON SIDE

 

During the debate in Federal Parliament there were a large number of contributors from across the political spectrum. It was great to hear from so many MPs and Senators who actually understand the trucking industry.

 

"Thirty years of my working life has been dedicated to the improvement of conditions for Australia's ownerdrivers and Australia's transport workers," Senator Glenn Sterle (Western Australia, Labor) says.

 

"When I rise to talk about road safety and the issues facing Australia's trucking industry and Australia's trucicies, I know what I am talking about. I have been a small business man," Senator Sterle says.

 

"I know what it was like for my wife in the early days to be sitting there worried sick because the phone call had not come when I was supposed to be in Fitzroy Crossing, or I may have been supposed to be in Port Hedland that night and the reverse charges phone call did not come on the Telecom box, because I did not have a

mobile phone."

 

"This Bill and the tribunal it establishes will constitute an effective safe rates system for the Australian road transport industry," Chris Hayes MP (Fowler, Labor) says. "It is not about removing competition far from it. However, it is about ensuring safe standards in an industry that represents the nation's deadliest workplace. "The legislation will give effect to four key aspects that deliver a safe rates system. Firstly, it will apply a system to all participants in the supply chain that includes client accountability for safe planning, performance and rates.

 

"Secondly, rates and structures of remuneration will be established by an independent tribunal. Thirdly, it will provide the capacity to make binding determinations and resolve disputes. Fourthly, it will provide an appropriate and adequate enforcement regime," Hayes says.

 

PURSUING BETTER CONDITIONS

 

"I pledge myself to continue to pursue better physical conditions for truckies and owner-drivers,” Paul Neville MP (Hinkler, The Nationals) says. "I am not in the business of union bashing, and Tony Sheldon knows that. I am a great supporter of the trucking industry and its drivers."

 

The Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Anthony Albanese MP (Grayndler, Labor), offered these words: "Safety on our roads is a critical issue for all Australians and we can't afford to continue to allow unsafe practices to impact heavily on families

and communities."

 

"Truck drivers should not have to speed, overload their trucks or drive excessive hours just to make a decent living," Minister Albanese says.

 

"While these delays [waiting times] are inherent in the nature of the industry, the supermarket duopoly have been taking advantage of their centralised power to hold trucking companies and our drivers to ransom by giving them unreasonable deadlines and penalising them if they are delayed by even just a few minutes," Craig Kelly MP (Hughes, Liberals) says.

 

As a result of the successful passage of the legislation, the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal will be established on July 1 this year. This will have the power to make clients accountable for the safe transportation of their goods.

 

Over the coming weeks and months we will be conducting a survey of TWU members and other drivers in the industry, to chart the way ahead on safe rates and conditions on our roads and holding clients to account.

 

Let's all join the fight for a decent industry. Having a law is not worth the paper it is written on unless we are all are prepared to exercise our rights. For further information please visit www.saferoads.org.au Or www.facebook.com/TWUAus.

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