November 25, 2019
The Transport Workers’ Union has criticised Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter for attacking unions, including the TWU, in Parliament while failing to address spiralling truck crash deaths and exploitation in the gig economy.
Truck crash deaths so far this year are at 186 fatalities including 49 truck drivers. Last year for the same period 154 people were killed in truck crashes, 34 of them truck drivers.
The Coalition in April 2016 tore down a road safety watchdog that was investigating risks to safety in trucking, despite the Government’s own report saying it was reducing truck crashes by 28%.
In the gig economy, a survey from last week showed food delivery riders are being ripped off on average $322 per week in unpaid wages and superannuation; one in every four riders has been in an accident, many left to chase insurance companies for medical expenses.
Rideshare drivers are paid on average just $16 an hour, after taxes but before the expense of running their car. Gig economy workers face sackings without warning or the chance to appeal and have no guaranteed wages, sick leave or annual leave.
“We have written to the Minister to outline the challenges that transport workers face. We have told him of the safety risks for truck drivers and we have appealed to him to intervene in cases involving the exploitation of gig economy workers. We have yet to receive a meaningful response to any of our correspondence,” said TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine.
“The TWU every day deals with an absolute horror show: deaths from truck crashes, serious safety incidents at the airports, Uber drivers telling us they have been sacked for no reason, Deliveroo riders telling us they have been injured and the company won’t pay their medical expenses. The Federal Government has not once reached out to us to ask for information, to offer support or to even hear our concerns. Instead we battle each day on behalf of these workers and in return we are vilified in our Federal Parliament,” he said.
“I challenge Christian Porter for just one day to see what it is like to be a transport worker: to ride with a truck driver, to lift hundreds of kilos on the baggage belts at the airports, to wait for hours for a job as a rideshare driver and to battle traffic and the elements as a food delivery rider. Maybe once he has worked in their shoes he might be a little less quick to attack to people who stand up for them,” Kaine added.