The legislative framework will address the financial squeeze by companies at the top of the supply chain whose low-cost contracts are behind the high number of deaths from truck crashes, poor rates and wage theft among drivers and insolvencies among transport companies.
The forum was convened by Shadow Minister for Road Safety Senator Glenn Sterle.
TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said he was pleased at the contributions from industry participants at the forum. “It is clear that the tide is turning and that our industry is united in pushing for a way to make things better. The industry realizes that a huge gap has been left since a road safety watchdog was torn down and that rates, payment deadlines, safety and sustainability has gotten worse. We need to address this urgently,” he said.
“We believe that the ALP got the policy right in December at their national conference and that binding legislation to tackle the gross imbalances and a skewed power dynamic in our industry is the way forward. We look forward to moving ahead now and pushing for the implementation of this policy,” he added.
Frank Black, owner driver representative on the ATA general council said: “We need change and we need it urgently. Drivers need to be viable so they can operator safely. We need to stop the procrastination and implement changes now,” he said.
The transport industry is marked by severe financial pressure from wealthy retailers, manufacturers and oil companies at the top which demand low cost contracts to have their goods transported. The effect of this is tight margins which see transport companies subsist on tight margins and delay maintenance to trucking fleets, and drivers forced to work long hours, speed and skip mandatory rest breaks.
Since the Federal Government tore down the road safety watchdog three years ago, 519 people have died in truck crashes. In just the last week seven people have died, including five truck drivers. Transport businesses continue to falter with 1,045 becoming insolvent since the watchdog was torn down to January this year, according to ASIC figures.