A convoy of over 240 drivers and vehicles crossed Sydney’s Harbour Bridge this morning before dozens of family members joined them for a rally in White Bay. South Australian transport workers held a go-slow on the South Eastern Freeway in Adelaide with a rally afterwards at Torrens Parade Ground. Drivers and community supporters gathered at Murray reserve in Melbourne before crossing the West Gate Bridge in a 50-vehicle convoy. In Perth transport workers gathered for a protest at Parliament House, in Queensland a community meeting was held at Redcliffe CWA Hall while in Darwin there was a protest at Parliament House.
“Today was a day of action by communities fed up with deaths and injuries caused by financial pressure so that wealthy retailers, manufacturers, oil companies and banks can make profits. These wealthy clients must take responsibility for the drivers which deliver their goods, who are being forced to speed, drive long hours, skip mandatory rest breaks and skip maintenance on their vehicles,” said TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon.
“The pressure on trucking companies and drivers is real: Safe Work found one in three companies say their workers ignore safety rules to get the job done. Hundreds are dying every year because of this,” he added.
The Federal Government has opposed a system of Safe Rates, which would ensure drivers are not pushed to break safety rules. The Government’s own reports published in April show the link between road safety and the pay rates of drivers and that the safe rates system would reduce truck crashes by 28%.
Truck driver Mark Trevillian said that change in the transport industry is desperately needed. “Drivers are being pushed to go over their hours and take risks. This means truckies are tired and they’re driving vehicles where maintenance is being stalled or tyres aren’t being replaced when they should. It’s an industry-wide issue that puts the safety of drivers and members of the public on the line.”
Sue Posnakidis, whose brother John died in a truck crash in 2010, attended the rally in Adelaide. “My brother’s death was not an accident. The driver who crashed into him was inexperienced, fatigued and driving a truck which had faulty brakes. I want to make sure no other family goes through what mine is still going through,” she said.
2,548 people died in truck crashes in the 10 years to 2014. Last month 17 people died in truck crashes; in April there were 24 deaths; in March there were 25 deaths.