The Prime Minister’s refusal to implement the recommendations of a landmark Senate report tabled six months ago is ramping up the deadly pressure on truckies, says the TWU as it takes aim at the Federal Government for not backing drivers in their fight for a fairer road transport industry.
Since the Report was tabled, 87 people have died in truck-involved crashes, including 32 truck drivers. These figures mark a sharp incline in the rate of truck driver deaths, with one truckie killed on average every six days since the Inquiry made its final recommendations – an increase from the average rate over the last five years from one death every 10 days.
The Without Trucks, Australia Stops report – tabled to the Senate on 25 August 2021 – is the result of an extensive two-year inquiry led by WA Senator Glenn Sterle which, unlike Morrison’s snap changes to truck licencing, brought together transport workers, operators, employer groups and the TWU.
The report sets out several key reform paths to lift industry standards. At its heart is a recommendation the Federal Government establish an independent body to create and enforce universal binding standards in road transport. A body of this kind would address crushing supply chain pressures and protect the industry’s long-term sustainability by ending the ‘Amazon Effect’ undercutting transport operators.
The Federal Government has so far only cherrypicked recommendations like the establishment of an apprenticeship scheme for road transport, but has failed to act decisively to end the social, economic and contracting pressures which make transport Australia’s deadliest industry.
TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said the Federal Government’s go-slow showed it wasn’t on the side of truckies or the industry.
“Truck drivers have never been more fatigued, less financially secure and under greater pressure from companies at the top than they are today. When you couple these crippling pressures with gig bottom feeders like Amazon undercutting the industry at every opportunity, it’s no wonder truckies are leaving transport in droves”.
“This isn’t some fringe report. The Inquiry was widely supported and its recommendations endorsed by workers and the industry. It’s a workable blueprint for a fairer and more sustainable road transport industry that’s now just gathering dust on the Prime Minister’s shelf.
“The Federal Government’s dragged its heels for too long to deadly consequences. If the LNP fails to implement the Senate’s recommendations in-full, Scott Morrison will have to explain to truckies and small fleet operators across the country why their safety and financial security isn’t his priority”.
Road transport is an industry in crisis, with pressures of underpayments, fatigue, speeding, and overloaded trucks linked to the low-cost contracts demanded by wealthy retailers, manufacturers and oil companies at the top of the supply chain.
The six-month milestone comes following a series of devastating truck crashes in recent weeks, including a collision between two road trains on the Kamilaroi Highway in NSW which killed two drivers, and a head-on smash killing two drivers in Woman in QLD.
So far in 2022, 31 people have died in truck-involved crashes, including 10 truck drivers.