Their application, along with two others, comes as 14 people were killed in truck crashes in just over one week. Each year 330 people die in truck crashes while trucking is Australia’s deadliest profession, with drivers 15 times more likely to die than any other profession.
“This ruling addresses deaths in truck crashes and will make the industry safe and sustainable. It beggars belief that Ai Group, NatRoad and ALRTA would want to stand in the way of this ruling,” said TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon. Truck drivers and the TWU will visit Canberra next week to press the case for a focus on truck deaths.
The ruling sets down minimum safe rates for drivers, ensuring they are paid all their costs and for all the work they do. The Order will address the pressure on drivers which causes many truck crashes: the pressure to skip breaks, speed, drive for long hours with overloaded vehicles in a stressed and tired state.
Most importantly the Order holds major retailers to account for the pressure on transport operators and drivers though their low cost contracts. This push for profits ultimately costs lives.
Rates higher than the rates set down under the ruling already apply across NSW (in the contract determination order) and in agreements in yards across the country.
“Both Ai Group and NatRoad have failed to explain why there is a problem with this Order when higher rates already exist under NSW laws and in other agreements. It is clear what is at play here: wealthy retailers at the top fear their profits may get hit by this Order but profits must never be put before people’s lives,” Sheldon said.
The TWU has asked the transport industry to stand with it to demand that clients pay them for their work within 30 days. “It is unsustainable for businesses to wait up to four months for payment, as happens at present. It is adding an unsustainable cost burden on transport operators which affects how they maintain their fleets and pay their drivers," he added.
Last December the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal handed down the ruling stating long-distance drivers and those working in retail must be paid minimum rates which also cover time spent waiting and queuing at depots and distribution centres. The ruling also said wealthy retailers which use transport operators must be held to account for pressures on drivers.
The deaths over the past week include:
- VIC, 10 Mar 2016: A mother and father of three children were killed on Hopkins Road at Truganina after their car was in collision with a truck
- NSW, 9 Mar 2016: A man was killed following a head-on collision between his car and a truck on Anderson Drive at Beresfield.
- WA, 8 Mar 2016: A 64-year-old truck driver was killed when his prime mover hit a tree and caught fire on Albany Highway in Tenterden.
- NSW, 8 Mar 2016: A man died after his car and a truck crashed on Tomago Road in Williamtown.
- NSW, 7 Mar 2016: A man died following a head-on crash between his van and a truck on the Pacific Highway at Cooperabung.
- SA, 5 Mar 2016: A 47-year-old man and a 44-year-old woman, who were both truck drivers, were killed when their truck hit a guardrail and burst into flames on the Eyre Highway near Port Augusta.
- VIC, 5 Mar 2016: A truck driver was killed when his truck hit a tree on the Western Freeway in Darley.
- WA, 4 Mar 2016: Two 25-year-old men died when their motorcycle crashed with a truck on McCombe Road in Halifax.
- VIC, 3 Mar 2016: Two people, a female sedan driver and a male truck driver, died when their vehicles collided head-on on Latrobe Road in Maryvale.
- VIC, 1 Mar 2016: A female truck driver died after being pinned under her truck that rolled at a worksite on the South Gippsland Highway in Nyora.