TWU Acting National Secretary Michael Kaine told the Senate Education and Employment References Committee that there is a direct link between the increase in deaths and the pressure transport operators and drivers are put under by major industry clients in a bid to lower costs.
“People are being slaughtered on our roads in the name of corporate greed. We need tougher laws and stronger enforcement, but they’ll only work if the enforcement begins at the source of the problem and holds every corporation in supply chains to account. The Federal Government cannot continue to protect big business at the expense of safety on our roads,” Kaine said.
In the 12 months to March, 184 members of our community were killed in 163 fatal truck crashes, according to the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics.
The Committee also heard from John Waltis, a truck driver who has shockingly attended more than 50 funerals of truck driver colleagues.
Ahead of the Inquiry, Waltis said “I’ve seen the consequences of fatigue, the pressures to meet deadlines, and crashes due to mechanical faults. The shattering effects of these pressures goes beyond the dozens of funerals I’ve attended. It’s not just about the hundreds killed, it’s about the thousands of friends and family members left devastated.”
“We need legislation and it must be enforceable for every company involved in the transportation of those goods. I don’t want to have to go to another family’s home and tell them they’ve lost a loved one,” Waltis added.
In April 2016, the Federal Government shut down the watchdog which was investigating safety in trucking and holding major companies to account. Since this watchdog was abolished, there have been 388 people killed in truck crashes.
The TWU also presented the safety concerns of workers in the on-demand economy.
“We’re seeing food delivery riders working in all weather conditions, being forced to compete with each other to make deliveries as quickly as possible, just to get a decent wage. It’s disgusting that companies not only put workers at risk in this way but also game the system to wash their hands of any responsibility. It’s reckless of the Federal Government to allow this to happen,” Michael Kaine said.
A young French rider, Julien Trameaux, was killed while riding for Uber Eats in Sydney in 2017. His family received a five-line letter of condolence from the company that his former housemate Leo Villaume told Channel 10’s The Project was “a waste of paper, disgusting, disrespectful.”