The Transport Workers’ Union is calling on the federal and state governments to ensure truck drivers have the protections they need against the coronavirus, and to mandate rest stops to stay open for drivers.
The Union has written to all mainland states and territories affected by border closures calling for information on what protective equipment, such as hand sanitisers and gloves, interstate drivers are being supplied with. The union also wants assurances that drivers will be able to access rest stops, decent food and clean showers during the crisis.
Michael Kaine, TWU National Secretary, said drivers were a vital service given their importance in ensuring the public and other vital services continue to have access to the food, fuel, and medicines they need across Australia.
“For truck drivers the situation is getting critical as states close their borders and impose self-isolation measures on anyone entering. The exception is truck drivers who will continue to keep goods moving across borders. This does not come without risks. Truck drivers on average are older and have underlying health issues which make them vulnerable to coronavirus,” he said.
“We are appealing to state government to ensure truck drivers have access to masks, gloves, disinfectant when crossing borders and that truck stops stay open to allow them to eat, rest and take showers which are disinfected and clean. We are alarmed at reports that some rest stops are closing and that drivers are finding they can only take away food, which in some cases involves snacks not meals. We want to see governments recognising the vital job truck drivers are doing and take responsibility to ensure they have what they need,” Kaine added.
Kaine said Governments also need to ensure owner drivers and transport operators were able to stay in business to keep goods moving. “We want to see owner drivers and operators paid on time by the retailers and manufacturers moving their goods so drivers can keep their trucks well-maintained and fuelled. Truck drivers are the backbone of the economy and this crisis has reminded everyone just how critical they are. Now more than ever we need to support them.”
The TWU has written to state governments requesting:
- Clarity about any measures in place at border crossings to check trucks and truck drivers crossing, whether this includes temperature checks on drivers, etc
- Assurances that truck drivers will be supplied at these border crossing with hand sanitisers, masks, gloves and information
- Clarity on any measures in place for truck drivers when they enter the state to protect themselves and others
- Assurances that truck stops will stay open so that drivers can still access rest areas for food and showers. We are concerned about stops only offering take away services
- Assurances that showers and rest areas at truck stops for truck drivers will be cleaned and disinfected adequately
- Clarity regarding the use of two-up driving arrangements, with the possibility of other arrangements being preferred to promote social distancing
- Assistance in ensuring that clients pay owner drivers and transport operators on time.
- Assurances that owner drivers who are in financial distress are given financial assistance
The TWU demands follow a united stance among operators and industry bodies last week to call for protections to ensure transport remained a viable industry.