Safe Rates A Step CloserSafe Rates A Step Closer

Release date: 16/12/2009

The Transport Workers Union (TWU) has today welcomed the announcement by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Industrial Relations, Julia Gillard, saying the government will work with the Australian Road Transport Industrial Organisation (ARTIO) and the TWU to formulate legislation for safe rates for truck drivers.

 TWU national secretary, Tony Sheldon, said that with 287 people killed in heavy vehicle crashes on Australian roads each year, a national system of payments for truck drivers was urgently required.

“Report after report has shown that the economic pressures put on truck drivers forces unsafe work practices and in our industry, that often means death,” Mr Sheldon said.

“It was just last week that Safe Work Australia released a new report which showed that deaths in the transport industry account for more than 25 per cent of all workplace deaths.

“The same report found that if you worked in the road freight industry, you were over 13 times more likely to be killed at work than the average employee. Deputy PM Julia Gillard’s announcement today will go a long way to helping relieve truck drivers of that pressure, and we look forward to working with the government and ARTIO to ensure a system of fair and safe rates applies to the trucking industry,” Mr Sheldon said.

The TWU said they would sit down with ARTIO and the government to put in place a system of payments for owner-drivers and employees where they receive full cost recovery for their work.

“If petrol prices go up, a driver should not be forced into unsafe practices to cover those costs. The same can be said for waiting times and the maintenance of the trucks,” Mr Sheldon said.

“The clients and retailers at the end of the supply chain charge consumers more for the goods and they should pass it on. But if they do not, we want to see a dispute resolution process in place that can apply the legislation fairly and give drivers an avenue where they can seek cost recovery.

“But as it stands, the TWU will continue to raise community awareness of the issues and continue our events over the new year.

“We are heading into a high-risk period over Christmas and we need drivers on holidays to be aware that truck drivers work throughout the period – and for them to be careful,” Mr Sheldon said.

To read Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard's statement click here.

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