Around 200 trucks traversed the Harbour Bridge in Sydney taking up lanes in both directions before looping around the city centre, while trucks also converged on Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.
Drivers are protesting at the lack of safety and fairness in trucking which has seen 27 people killed in truck crashes so far this month, nine of them truck drivers. Since the Federal Government tore down a road safety watchdog nearly three years ago, 535 people have died in truck crashes, including 115 truck drivers. Drivers are demanding an end to the deadly pressure they are under to work long hours, speed and skip mandatory rest breaks which cause risks to safety on the roads.
“This convoy is about sending a message to the Federal Government: we want the needless deaths, the injuries, the wage theft, the insolvencies and the job losses to end. We have a plan for change and we want it implemented. We demand regulation to lift standards and address the problems in our industry. We want to make sure that wealthy retailers, manufacturers and oil companies at the top of the supply pay their fair share to make sure their goods are transported safely,” said TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine.
“Our aim is to put an end to the high numbers of preventable truck crashes that cost so many lives. No truck should be on the road if its brakes are faulty, its tyres are bald or if its load is not strapped down properly. No driver should be forced to work long hours, speed and skip mandatory rest breaks just to make a deadline. No families should be left devasted because of the death of a loved one, killed because company profits were considered to be more important than paying appropriate rates to transport operators and drivers,” he added.
Driver Tony Matthews said: “It’s not hard to work out that if drivers aren’t paid an appropriate rate they can’t maintain their trucks or take their rest breaks. That’s why we need urgent change to make sure all drivers are safe on the roads,” he said.
The convoys follow a December move by the Labor Party to include policy in its platform on a system of Safe Rates, to lift standards across the industry in order to tackle low wages, high numbers of bankruptcies and high numbers of deaths and injuries, by holding major retails and manufacturers at the top accountable.
- Statistics show 1,045 businesses in transport, warehousing and postal have become insolvent, according to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).
- A Department of Infrastructure report has said: “Heavy trucks are disproportionately involved in casualty crashes: approximately 16 per cent of road crash fatalities and 4 per cent of injuries involve these vehicles.” ABS data shows that trucks represent just 3.6% of registered motor vehicles.
- A Macquarie University report and survey has criticised a “critical gap” in regulation and shown that:
- over 80% of truck drivers work more than 50 hours a week; 10% work over 80 hours
- one in six drivers who own their own trucks do
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