September 23, 2019


The TWU, together with unions from around the globe and the International Transport Workers Federation, will push for governments and employers to adopt the Safe, Fair And Sustainable Standards as part of United Nations’ guidelines designed to improve safety on the roads.

The guidelines are being drafted at a meeting of the International Labour Organization, the UN labour body, in Geneva this week, with Australia the chair of the workers’ representative group.

“A precondition for creating better safety outcomes is by ensuring accountability among the wealthy companies at the top of transport supply chains.  Critically,  this includes new economy behemoths such as Amazon and Uber Freight that want to destroy the industry chasing market share at the expense of lives on our roads.  By ensuring the likes of Amazon, Uber, wealthy retailers, manufacturers and oil companies are responsible for the safe transportation of their goods we can lift standards. This will have the effect of making transport businesses more sustainable, jobs in transport safer, fairer and more attractive, and it will reduce risks on the roads,” said TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine who is leading the global worker representative group.

“For too long across the world, transport has been bearing the brunt of the savage greed to make profits at whatever cost by companies at the top. But Supply Chain approaches dealing with causes of industry pressures and not solely the symptoms of that pressure have been shown to work. That approach led to major investigations into risks in various transport sectors in Australia and resulted in owner drivers being given a guarantee of 30-day payments. In Korea a new system of safe rates and sustainable transport operations has turned the tables on the powerful conglomerates which had seen truck drivers go for decades without pay rises, with the resulting carnage on the roads. In the US the approach has seen port drivers win important victories on classification and union recognition. This model can serve as a global blueprint to ensure the financial squeeze on transport ends,” Kaine added.

The guidelines are being drafted following a resolution at the ILO four years ago which recognised the need for “fair and safe remuneration systems” and highlighted that road transport workers in freight and passenger transport have “some of the highest injury and fatality rates”. It stated that the “multiple supply and contracting chains” in the road transport industry “often lead to pressures on margins that can leave transport workers unable to exercise their fundamental principles and rights at work”.

An expert paper on safety and sustainability will be submitted to union, employer and government groups setting out the importance of proactive supply chain initiatives to tackle the poor conditions spanning the lower end of supply chains and how this system can be translated right across the world. The paper recommends two main functions of “Safe Rates” systems; to implement minimum standards for all transport operators and drivers, including minimum rates and cost recovery, and transparency and accountability throughout supply chains to ensure those reaping the profits at the head of supply chains and new economy contract networks are held to account for standards to ensure work is performed safely and sustainably.

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