The association opposed enforceable standards which guaranteed truck drivers payment for work within 30 days. It also opposed the same system which was holding wealthy clients such as major retailers and manufacturers to account for their low cost contracts to transport companies and owner drivers. Further, the association opposed an application to ensure these wealthy clients paid transport companies within 30 days of work completed.
This system would have made transport businesses more sustainable, allowing them to pay owner drivers and employee drivers better rates and maintain their fleets.
“The association has chosen to avoid making clients responsible and instead is trying to skim off the wages of drivers to make a buck for their members. Now it is trying to demonstrate it is doing anything for transport companies by coming up with a pathetic checklist for companies when signing contracts. But the reality is transport companies will continue to be bullied by clients until enforceable standards are put back in place to stop them doing it,” said TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon.
One driver Steven Melichar in a submission to the Small Business Ombudsman Kate Carnell told how his income had gone up $1,360 in the 10 days the minimum rates Order for owner driver was in place before it was torn down in April. “Who will compensate Mr Melichar for the thousands of dollars he has lost to date through the actions of the ATA, NatRoad and their friends in Federal Government?” asked Sheldon.
Sheldon warned the actions of the ATA and NatRoad did not just threaten the sustainability of transport companies and owner drivers but was also risking lives on the roads in horrific truck crashes. “Pressure on trucking leads to fatigued drivers under pressure to take risks. It also leads to companies cutting corners in maintenance. But even on this the ATA and NatRoad are in denial: they continually try to explain away the horrific number of deaths and injuries on the roads by comparing today’s statistics with statistics from over 30 years ago when many cars were not even equipped with seat belts.”
The latest Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics show a 6.7% increase in fatal crashes involving articulated trucks. A 10-year study by the Australian Institute of Health and Wellbeing shows more people are now being hospitalized after truck crashes due to injuries with a serious threat to life.
“The ATA needs to start representing its members in a real and demonstrable way and seeking a long-term solution to problems in trucking. It must stop acting apologists for wealthy clients,” Sheldon added.