May 16, 2017

Truck drivers block road in Fremantle to highlight crash deaths

Traffic was halted on Hampton Road as over 150 protesters demanded that Aldi end the financial squeeze on transport companies and truck drivers, which is leading to deaths on our roads.

This year almost 40% of all workplace deaths involved transport workers, with 22 transport worker deaths out of a total of 57 workplace deaths. Last year over one in three workplace deaths involved transport workers. Previously around one in four workplace deaths involved transport workers.

Other road users are caught up in the carnage with an increase in overall truck crash deaths (1).

“Aldi needs to take responsibility for what is happening in its supply chain. Cutting transport costs and underpaying truck drivers has massive consequences on our roads. This financial pressure leads to trucks not being maintained and drivers forced to speed, drive long hours and skip mandatory rest breaks. This squeeze has got to stop, for the sake of the entire community,” said TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon.

“The Federal Government is also to blame for this problem. Last year it tore down an independent tribunal which was holding wealthy clients like Aldi to account for the financial squeeze on transport that kills and injures people. This increase in deaths should not come as any surprise to the Government. Its own report showed the tribunal’s orders would cut truck crashes by 28%*. Transport workers are paying with their lives for this Government’s mismanagement,” said Sheldon.

Aldi last year attempted to pay truck drivers less misclassifying them in an enterprise agreement which the federal court struck down.

WA Senator Glenn Sterle addressed the rally. “We are here to demand that our truck drivers and our families should be safe on the roads. Wealthy retailers like Aldi and the Federal Government need to listen because we are not going away,” he said.

Truck driver Frank Black said: “The pressure on drivers is real. It’s not just enough to increase the number of speed camera to catch drivers. If you don’t tackle the reason why truck drivers are under pressure and what is forcing them to take risks on the road then nothing will change.”

Media enquiries: Judith Crosbie 0432552895


       1.   Increase in deaths

The Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics shows an increase in fatal crashes in articulated trucks by an average of 1.6 per cent per year over the three years to December 2016. Fatal crashes involving heavy rigid truck also increased by 6.8 per cent compared with the corresponding period one year earlier and increased by an average of 6.2 per cent per year over the three years to December 2016. 


Safe Work Australia on transport worker deaths: https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/statistics-and-research/statistics/fatalities/fatality-statistics-industry



2.     Safe Rates

In April last year, the Federal Government abolished a system backing safe rates that was holding wealthy clients such as retailers, banks, oil companies and ports to account for low cost contracts, which do not allow their goods to be delivered safely. This was despite the Government’s own reports showing a link between road safety and the pay rates of drivers and that the safe rates system would reduce truck crashes by 28%*. An Order delivering safe rates for the first time was in operation for just two weeks before the entire system was torn down.

3.     Evidence of pressure

A Macquarie University study in February criticised a “critical gap” since the Government abolished the regulation that the independent tribunal represented, “that can eliminate existing incentives for overly tight scheduling, unpaid work, and rates that effectively are below cost recovery”.

The study also showed that:

·      One in 10 truck drivers work over 80 hours per week.

·      One in six owner drivers say drivers can’t refuse an unsafe load

·      42% of owner drivers said the reason drivers do not report safety breaches was because of a fear of losing their jobs

A Safe Work Australia report in July 2015 showed


·      31% of employers say workers ignore safety rules to get the job done

·      20% accept dangerous behaviour, compared to less than 2% in other industries. 

·      20% of transport industry employers break safety rules to meet deadlines – this compares with just 6% of employers in other industries.

3. Mental health & suicide

A survey released yesterday showed over 22% of truck drivers said they had experienced mental health problems. A study by Deakin University showed 323 truck drivers committed suicide between 2001 and 2010. (Suicide among male road and rail drivers in Australia: a retrospective mortality study). An analysis by the Victorian coroner’s court showing truck drivers had the highest number of suicides out of any other profession, with 53 drivers taking their own lives between 2008 to 2014.

* 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)

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