Release date: 8/07/2009

Members of the Transport Workers Union will today protest outside the National Press Club in Canberra as Australian Transport Association CEO, Stuart St Clair, speaks inside on safety and the future of the trucking industry.

Transport Workers Union National Secretary, Tony Sheldon, said the ATA was not serious about safety in the industry, and with 281 people killed each year on Australian roads due to heavy vehicle incidents, it was time Mr St Clair answered some basic questions.

“Under Mr St Clair’s leadership, the ATA has repeatedly denied that poorly paid drivers are forced into unsafe practices. This is despite coroners and inquiries repeatedly calling for an overhaul of payment systems for drivers,” Mr Sheldon said.

“Why won’t the ATA support a system which sets a minimum of pay so drivers can re-coup costs, including fluctuating fuel prices and wages from clients? 

“Why won’t the ATA support a system which eliminates unpaid waiting times so that drivers are not sitting for 24-unpaid hours a week and being used as mobile warehouses? The TWU wants a road transport industry where people are not forced into dangerous practices to make ends meet.

“Less than two weeks ago was the most recent meeting of the ATA Council. At that meeting, Mr St Clair spoke against a motion calling for the ATA to employ a full time safety officer, saying it was not required.

“The Federal Government, through Deputy Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has acknowledged the link between safety and rates of pay in our industry. It is time for Stuart St Clair and the ATA to finally agree with the consensus and work to ensure our industry does not continue to unnecessarily take the lives of ordinary Australians.

“Trucks make up only two per cent of registered vehicles but they are involved in over 22 per cent of all vehicle fatalities on our roads – the time has come to end the carnage,” Mr Sheldon said.

Media Contact: Seth Tenkate 0408 463 199.

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