The Transport Workers’ Union has written to the Federal transport minister demanding uniform permits and testing requirements for drivers entering closed borders and urging him to ensure that retailers and manufacturers do not slash their contract rates during the pandemic.
The letter signed by TWU national and state branches also demands that the Federal Government ensures that all drivers have access to paid pandemic leave and do not have to pay fines for breaches caused by poor systems implemented by their employers or the clients whose goods they are transporting.
The demands come as interstate drivers report confusion over new requirements by the NSW Government to get tested every seven days.
TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said any national rules must ensure uniform systems, protections and supports for drivers and operators.
“We understand that governments need to put in place measures to contain the pandemic but they must ensure that essential transport workers delivering food, fuel and medicines across closed borders must have clear rules about what they need to do. Having different testing and permits systems for each state is confusing and risks being ineffective. We are already seeing an impact on supply chains with some drivers and operators reporting a fall-off in work and a drop in rates. We abhor the actions of wealthy retailers and manufacturers in slashing rates at this difficult time and urge the Federal Government to take action,” he said.
Vic/Tas Branch Secretary John Berger said the Federal Government needed to include truck drivers in any measures on paid pandemic leave.
“The Government must ensure that any drivers who need to get tested or self-isolate can do so without losing pay. We also want to see the Government ensuring that any fines issued to drivers over breaches of COVID requirements target employers and the companies whose good they are transporting if the breaches are related to their poor systems. Truck drivers have been openly identified as essential workers in this pandemic and they must be supported as they carry out their important work,” he said.
NSW Branch Secretary Richard Olsen called for an immediate end to the ambiguity and confusion at state borders and for governments to ensure the safe transit for transport workers doing their jobs.
“We have seen confusion, anxiety and angst amongst our membership as they scramble to keep up with the ambiguous, ongoing changes to border crossing rules. Drivers are already under pressure, with the squeeze on the transport industry as a critical service,” he said.