Truckies and bus drivers stop traffic for Safe Rates

Release date: 26/08/2011

Seven hundred transport workers have blocked a main road in western Sydney to demand new federal work safety laws.

Australian Associated Press

Police were called to James Ruse Drive at Rosehill shortly after 10am (AEST) today.

The protesting truck drivers and independent contractors were found to be blocking six lanes of traffic on either side of the road.

The Transport Workers' Union said 700 of its delegates staged what it described as an "act of civil disobedience", demanding the federal government legislate safe rates of pay in the road transport industry.

The union delegates had earlier gathered at nearby Rosehill Gardens racecourse for the start of a two-day NSW branch conference.

A police spokeswoman said that after about eight minutes, the demonstrators left the main road, with no arrests made.

TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon and Unions NSW secretary Mark Lennon have addressed the delegates.

ACTU president Ged Kearney is due to speak tomorrow.

A senior official with the TWU, Michael Aird, said supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths exploited transport workers by paying them only for the amount of tonnage they transported.

He said this meant truck drivers often received nothing for the time they spent loading freight, or driving to a depot.

"There will be a campaign of civil disobedience until we get safe rates implemented," Mr Aird said.

The union says more than 300 people die on Australian roads every year in heavy vehicle accidents.

Click here to read the story on the Daily Telegraph website

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