The delay to the ruling will create uncertainty for drivers and put off a solution to the high death toll in truck crashes.
“This is a declaration of war on the trucking industry. What we have is an independent Order from the road safety watchdog to hold those at the top of the transport supply chain to account over their predatory unsafe contracts. But because this government has been bank-rolled by those big clients they have stepped in to halt this Order,” said TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon.
The Liberal National Party receives billions of dollars in donations from retailers, banks and oil companies – all in line to be held to account for safety and poor rates in trucking by the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal. Truck drivers are under pressure to speed, drive long hours, skip mandatory rest breaks and skip maintenance on their vehicles because of financial squeeze placed on them by major clients. Trucking is Australia’s deadliest profession with drivers 15 times more likely than any other profession to die at work. In March alone 25 people died in truck crashes.
The industry is also unsustainable with bankruptcies among small transport operators and owner drivers are among the highest of any industry, with 275 bankruptcies in the last financial year.
“The government had pitted itself and its rich mates against an independent tribunal which sat for two years and listened to evidence and testimony about why these safe minimum rates are necessary. This decision to get involved in this independent process is entirely political and undemocratic,” Sheldon added.
Owner driver Frank Black said he and his colleagues were bitterly disappointed at the Government’s decision. “We have spent many decades fighting for Safe Rates. To have it halted at this stage is a real kick in the face for drivers like us who have seen mates pushed to their limit and people killed on the roads,” he said.