The ruling, which comes into effect on April 4th, will ensure that drivers are not put under pressure to meet unrealistic deadlines and forced to speed, drive long hours and skip maintenance on their trucks.
“My condolences goes out to the families and friends torn apart after the deaths of these nine loved ones. I am calling on the Government to take road safety seriously and back 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 union is demanding that wealthy retailers follow the binding law on pay rates and ensure that their transport contracts reflect the new rates. “These rates are minimum safe rates, they will ensure drivers get paid for all the work they do. Unfortunately what we are seeing is a lot of scare-mongering about the rates and this is coming right from the big retailers at the top. But lives should not be put before profits,” Sheldon added.
The deaths this past week include:
- 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.
Last December the road safety watchdog handed down the ground-breaking ruling on safe rates. The Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal said 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 TWU is also calling for a national auditing, education and industrial rights fund paid into by all employers along the transport supply chain. The fund would ensure companies are meeting safety obligations and that those at the top of supply chains are being held to account for work carried out for them. The fund would also educate employers on their obligations while training drivers on safety and their rights at work.
“This fund is important in holding companies to account over safety. At the moment it is the rest of the community which is bearing the brunt of the loss of loved ones and the economic cost of truck crashes,” he said.