The latest figures on insolvencies show 275 small transport operators of five employees or less were forced out of business; in the year to June 2014 there were 548 bankruptcies.
The call comes as the Federal Government announced an inquiry into the impact of an Order on safe minimum rates for owner drivers, which was in operation just two weeks before it was struck down by Parliament.
“It is an appalling waste of taxpayers’ money to conduct an inquiry into the impact of an Order which was in operation for two weeks while hundreds of small transport operators struggle each year to keep going on tight margins. It is an affront to these operators that the supposedly independent Ombudsman is engaging in politicised attacks on owner drivers fighting for safe minimum rates,” said TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon.
“Away from the political sideshow there are real issues in trucking that need to be addressed: the highest workplace deaths of any profession, chronic fatigue, stress, mental health problems and among the highest suicides and bankruptcies. I am demanding that the Government end its war on the trucking community and deal with these issues now,” he added.
SA owner driver Roy Ballantyne said he was paid safe minimum rates for just two weeks before they were taken away by the Federal Government’s move in April. “It was my first rate rise in decades and would have helped a lot in dealing with the daily struggle I face,” he said.
The Government’s own reports released recently show that road transport has the “highest fatality rates of any industry in Australia” with 12 times the average for all industries. The reports also show the link between road safety and the pay rates of drivers and that the safe rates system would reduce truck crashes by 28%.
In March 25 people were killed in truck crashes; in April there were 24 deaths.