The Union is making the demand on International Workers’ Memorial Day.
Figures from Safe Work Australia show a spike in deaths among transport workers. This year almost 40% of all workplace deaths involved transport workers, with 19 transport worker deaths out of a total of 51 workplace deaths. Last year over one in three workplace deaths involved transport workers, with 64 deaths out of a total of 178. Previously around one in four workplace deaths involved transport workers.
“The Federal Government bears responsibility for this increase in deaths. In recent years transport employers and the wealthy supermarkets and manufacturers were on notice that there was a system of scrutiny monitoring safety and holding them to account. A year ago the Government tore down this independent tribunal. The Government knew this would happen – its own report showed the tribunal’s orders would cut truck crashes by 28%*. Now transport workers are paying for this move with their lives,” said National Assistant Secretary Michael Kaine.
“Now truck drivers are under more pressure to speed, drive long hours, skip mandatory breaks and overload their vehicles. Sadly there is no longer an agency which they can turn to which can investigate unsafe practices in the supply chain,” he added.
A Macquarie University study in February criticised a “critical gap” since the Government abolished the regulation that the independent tribunal represented, “that can eliminate existing incentives for overly tight scheduling, unpaid work, and rates that effectively are below cost recovery”.
The study also showed that:
- One in 10 truck drivers work over 80 hours per week
- One in six owners drivers say drivers can’t refuse an unsafe load
- 42% of owner drivers said the reason drivers do not report safety breaches was because of a fear of losing their jobs