Over 200 owner and employee drivers angry at the Government’s vote last week against safe rates for drivers sat down at the intersection of Goulburn and Pitt Streets and called on Malcolm Turnbull to stop putting profits over people’s lives. In Brisbane and Adelaide truck drivers and activists held vigils to mark International Workers’ Memorial Day.
“We are here today to tell Malcolm Turnbull we are not going away. Trucking is Australia’s deadliest profession with drivers 12 times more likely to die than any other profession. Hundreds of people die each year in truck cashes. Yet the Government has chosen to turn its back on these grim statistics and vote against a system that was scrutinising safety in transport. In doing this the Government has failed transport workers, their families and other road users,” said TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon.
Over 2500 people have been killed in truck-related crashes over a decade. Since the beginning of April, 23 have died in truck crashes; in March there were 25 deaths.
Sue Posnakidis whose brother John, also a truck driver, was killed by a truck in 2010 said today is a poignant day for her and her family. “My brother’s death was no accident. He was killed because of a failure to focus on safety. The driver who crashed into him was inexperienced and had a ‘grueling work schedule’ before the incident, according to the coroner. He was driving a truck with faulty brakes and working for a company which had just been open a few weeks by the wife of a man who had gone bankrupt,” she said.
Owner driver Dave Wocjik told the Sydney protest the Government’s opposition to safe rates only benefits the big retailers. “I’m lucky enough to earn a decent rate for my work that allows me to maintain my truck and support my family, but every day I pass truckies who are tired, stressed and in rigs that are not properly maintained because of the pressure from major clients,” he said.
The Federal Government’s own reports released recently show the link between road safety and the pay rates of drivers and that the safe rates system would reduce truck crashes by 28%*. “We know that a deadly cycle is at play in transport with major clients squeezing transport operators and drivers with low cost contracts to the point that our roads are simply not safe,” Sheldon added.
* PricewaterhouseCoopers “Review of the Road Safety Remuneration System Final Report January 2016” (PWC Review 2016 – published by the Commonwealth Department of Employment on 1 April, 2016)
Jaguar Consulting Pty Ltd “Review of the Road Safety Remuneration System 16 April, 2014 (Jaguar Consulting 2014 – published by the Commonwealth Department of Employment on 1 April, 2016)