Truck Boss to Face Court

Release date: 5/02/2014

The director of a Tully trucking company, who allegedly told drivers to “smoke it up” when he wanted them to reach destinations faster, is among four senior staff who have been charged over transport regulation breaches.
Cairns Post, by Grace Uhr, 5 Feb 2014

Blenners Transport was the subject of an in-depth investigation by ABC program Four Corners after 45 of their drivers pleaded guilty in court to fatigue-related offences.
The Department of Transport and Main Roads confirmed yesterday senior staff from a north Queensland trucking company, including two directors and two managers, will front court.
“These complaints relate to 742 charges, including chain of responsibility offences, breaching the requirements of an improvement notice and breaching the Basic Fatigue Management Accreditation conditions,” a department spokeswoman said.
Court documents reveal Blenners directors Les and Judy Blennerhassett have been listed to appear in Tully Magistrates Court on March 6.
The company is also scheduled to face charges that day.
It comes after 45 of the company’s drivers were fined around $60,000 collectively last year.
Another has recently been charged and will appear in Tully Magistrates Court on March 14.
A former Blenners operations manager, Stephen Gleeson, told the Four Corners program that drivers were under pressure to meet deadlines and Mr Blennerhassett’s favourite catch cry was to tell them to “smoke it up”.
Mr Gleeson was fired by the company, but later received compensation after being represented by the Transport Workers Union for unfair dismissal.
“I was sacked because I put it in writing that the trucks were breaking the law,” he said, during the program.
The company’s owner, Les Blennerhassett, said neither he nor the company pressured drivers to break the law.
TWU Queensland branch secretary Peter Biagini said they had been campaigning for 20 years to improve safety.
“Because we know that the pressure from major retail clients pushing pressure down the chain means that companies are forgoing maintenance and drivers are being pushed every day in the pursuit of profits,” he said.
“It’s time to put politics aside and commit to holding the big retailers to account for their role in the supply chain and improving safety on our roads.”

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