Truck driver deaths doubled this year compared to 2020, with the TWU lashing the Morrison Government for failing to address supply chain pressures before inviting young people to join Australia’s deadliest industry.
The TWU welcomes pathways for young and underrepresented workers to join the industry as put forward by a Senate Inquiry report last August. However, transport will remain an undesirable career as long as the Morrison Government refuses to enact the regulatory solutions required to make the industry safer.
The Senate report – compiled from an in-depth two-year inquiry which heard of horror crashes, armed hold-ups, and deadly pressures to work fatigued, speed and skip rest breaks – outlines ten recommendations to tackle the systemic practices contributing to high rates of death, injury and poor health outcomes.
The report states “the central recommendation of this committee, and the submitters, is for the establishment of a central powerful independent body to regulate, promote, fund and support all parts of the sector.”
Morrison has skipped recommendations one through three, which set out a regulatory body empowered to create and enforce “universal and binding standards” to “ensure the safe performance of work and eliminate unsafe economic and contracting practices”.
Christmas-like demand throughout the pandemic has exacerbated unrealistic deadlines and pressures on trucking supply chains. So far this year, 50 truck drivers have been killed at work, up from 26 truckie deaths in 2020 despite overall truck crash fatalities remaining at around 150 in total.
TWU Assistant National Secretary Nick McIntosh said this is first truckies have heard from Morrison on the supply chain pressures they’ve faced throughout the pandemic, despite numerous letters to his office.
“Morrison is picking and choosing the easiest recommendation of an extensive Senate report to suit his election campaign while refusing to fix the crisis in trucking. An apprenticeship scheme won’t work if it simply asks young people to jump into the graves of truckies killed, only to face the same deadly pressures as their predecessors.
“There wouldn’t be a driver shortage if there wasn’t such a deficit of decent work, proper consultation, and reform to address the Amazon Effect of cost-cutting and deadly exploitation in trucking supply chains.
“The Morrison Government has selective hearing when it comes to trucking. It is no wonder the Prime Minister has opted for the one recommendation which would not upset or hold to account the wealthy retailers, manufacturers and oil companies squeezing supply chains and making trucking so unsafe.
“If Morrison was as serious about attracting new drivers to the industry as he is about grabbing headlines and photos with trucks, he’d enact every recommendation of the Senate report, starting with the creation of a robust independent body to make trucking safer and more desirable,” he said.
This year’s truck driver death toll includes several crashes with fatigue highlighted as a likely contributor, including a ‘horrific’ fiery crash which killed two drivers south of Port Macquarie, and a devastating roll over which killed a truck driver in Lameroo, SA.