Protesters holding crosses to remember those killed in truck crashes blocked the intersection of Pitt and Goulburn Streets this morning. Today is International Workers’ Memorial Day.
Transport Workers’ Union NSW Secretary Michael Aird said that transport workers regretted inconveniencing motorists, but were desperate to bring attention to the crisis in the road transport industry.
“The only people popping champagne corks at the abolition of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal are in the boardrooms at the big end of town who have donated millions to the Liberal Party to do their bidding,” Mr Aird said.
“Last year 55[ii] transport workers were killed on the job. Over the past decade more than 2500[iii] Australians have been killed in truck crashes. There is a crisis in the industry but the only person who doesn’t seem to care is Malcolm Turnbull.
“Last week the Prime Minister abolished the national body with the power to hold major transport clients like Coles accountable for the safe transport of their freight.
“There is more than two decades[iv] of independent research establishing the link between rates of pay for truck drivers and safety on our roads – it’s no exaggeration to say that people may be killed or injured because of Malcolm Turnbull’s decision to side with big companies over small truckies.”
Owner driver Dave Wocjik said that heavy economic pressure from major transport clients is crushing too many truck drivers.
“I’m lucky enough to earn a decent rate for my work that allows me to maintain my truck and support my family, but every day I pass truckies who are tired, stressed and in rigs that are not properly maintained because of the pressure from major clients,” Mr Wocjik said.
Sydney truck driver Mark Trevillian said that he was angry with Malcolm Turnbull for siding with the big end of town instead of hard working truck drivers.
“Behind the wheel of a truck is the most dangerous place to work in Australia and the Prime Minister’s decision will only make things worse. I’m tired of politicians selling out transport workers because companies like Coles can make big donations,” Mr Trevillian said.
Michael Aird said that the Turnbull Government’s decision to abolish the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal was based on a host of lies spread to benefit the big transport clients and those who didn’t want to pay their drivers a safe rate.
“This is not about owner drivers versus employee drivers, this about lifting standards for all transport workers by holding clients to account, so that we can save lives on our roads,” Mr Aird said.
“There have been minimum rates for some owner drivers in NSW since the 1970s that have seen these small businesses prosper. But these rates do not hold the clients accountable and they are not nationwide. That was what the Tribunal was set up to do, but all of that work has been washed away so Malcolm Turnbull can keep his big business backers happy.
“We will continue to fight for safe and fair pay and conditions for all transport workers, where the clients are held to account for the safe movement of their freight.
“We will also be taking this message out into the marginal seats in Western Sydney, regional NSW and right across the country in the lead up to the Federal election.”
[i] A financial link of $7 million exists between the Liberal National Party and Coles’ parent company Wesfarmers. Of this there is a $5.3 million link in the form of dividends drawn down from Wesfarmers shares owned by the Cormack Foundation, an associated entity of the Liberal Party. A further $1.7 million in political donations was given by Wesfarmers and Coles to the Liberal and National parties.
[iii] In the years 2004-2014, 2548 people were killed in truck crashes.
Source: The Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE)
[iv] There is more than two decades of research establishing the link between rates of pay and safety on our roads – this was recently fact checked by TheConversation.com