Drivers stood with Christmas trees at Town Hall, representing the individuals who died in truck crashes during the Christmas period last year.
“Each tree represents an individual who will absent at the table this Christmas, it represents a family torn apart and a community left devastated. This increase in deaths is being caused by wealthy retailers such as Aldi pressurising transport operators and drivers to take safety risks to deliver their goods at lower costs. This increase in deaths is being willfully ignored by the Federal Government,” said TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon.
Official statistics show a 9.4% increased in deaths from crashes involving articulated trucks this year. So far this year 195 people have died in truck crashes, compared to 172 for all of last year, according to police reports.
Pressure from wealthy retailers results in transport operators and drivers cutting back on truck maintenance, speeding, driving long hours and skipping mandatory rest breaks. A Safe Work Australia report shows almost one in three transport employers say workers ignore safety rules to get the job done.
Driver John Hanley, said pressure on drivers makes trucking a highly dangerous industry. “The deadlines are unrealistic and the pressure is so great that drivers are forced to take risks. I have friends who have been to multiple funerals of drivers killed,” he said.
Drivers are calling on the Federal Government to put in place a watchdog to ensure wealthy retailers are held accountable for low cost contracts and safety risks in their supply chain.
In October, a cross-party Senate committee approved a report recommending that the Government facilitate industry talks to “establish an independent industry body which has the power to formulate, implement and enforce supply chain standards and accountability as well as sustainable, safe rates for the transport industry”.