As ATA chief executive Chris Melham steps down today, there has been a week of horrific truck crashes and roll overs in which three drivers died and several have been left injured.
“The ATA has made trucking less safe by opposing a system to hold wealthy clients to account over their low cost transport contracts. There is no independent tribunal which can examine the pressure drivers are put under to speed, drive long hours, skip mandatory rest break and overload their vehicles. Drivers are stressed, fatigued and under financial strain and this is killing them,” said TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon.
“The association should be a forum to bring all the industry together to fight bullying by wealthy retailers and manufacturers. But it needs a strong leader who will stand up to these major companies instead of allowing them to keep transport operators and drivers on meagre margins,” he said.
Frank Black, the owner driver representative on the ATA general council, says the association is in denial about the pressures and risks drivers face. “Drivers want to see the ATA taking on their concerns about safety. They want to see real change in the industry so they can meet their costs and support their families. They do not want to see the ATA trying to pretend there is no problem – with the number of deaths on the roads or with the way the rates are kept so low – because there certainly is,” he said.
Owner driver Roy Ballantyne said things are getting worse not better for drivers and that the industry had to come on board to change it: “I’ve no superannuation, I take no annual holiday and I average around $3-$3.50 an hour from the 65 hours I work a week when all the costs are taken out,” he says.