The tabling of legislation to enable the Fair Work Commission to set enforceable standards in transport is a crucial step towards saving lives and businesses across the industry, says the TWU.
The tabling of this legislation comes two years after a Senate Inquiry report handed down recommendations including: “that the government establishes or empowers an independent body that will, in consultation with industry, set universal and binding standards”.
Since the Senate report was tabled, 391 people have been killed in truck crashes, including 105 truck drivers. A further three transport gig workers have been killed in 2023.
If passed, the legislation would address razor-thin margins, commercial pressure from the top of the supply chain and unfair competition from the gig economy, which has seen 347 insolvencies in the last financial year.
In February, Scott’s Refrigerated Logistics – Australia’s largest cold chain operator – collapsed after making a $31 million loss on half a billion in revenue. The collapse saw 1500 workers lose their jobs and dozens of subcontractors owed hundreds of millions of dollars each.
TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said:
“The tabling of lifesaving transport reform in Federal Parliament is a significant moment for our industry. It brings hope that the days of deadly and unsustainable commercial pressures are numbered.
“This legislation is urgent. Already this year, 156 people have been killed in truck crashes – roughly five deaths a week, and 39 of those were truck drivers.
“In the last six weeks, two food delivery riders were killed during the Saturday dinner rush.
“In the last two months another 67 transport companies collapsed.
“Any moment of delay can cost lives, livelihoods and businesses. There is no time to waste to reverse the crisis in transport through meaningful reform and enforceable minimum standards, derived from advice from industry experts. We call on Federal Parliament to pass this reform as soon as possible.
“This legislation is the result of extensive consultation, Senate Inquiry evidence from 150 industry experts, a unanimous industry roundtable, and repeated calls from workers and industry groups, including nationwide convoys.
“After a decade of inaction under the Coalition, it is well past time to stop the slaughter on our roads and ensure our essential transport industry is safe, fair and sustainable.”
A year ago, a roundtable convened by Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke comprised of supply chain clients Coles and Woolworths, major transport operators Toll, Team Global Express, Linfox, gig companies Uber and DoorDash, employer associations, workers and academics provided a shared set of principles on reform to set fair, safe and sustainable standards in transport.
In 2016, the Coalition abolished the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal and put nothing in its place, despite its own report stating the watchdog could have prevented 28% of truck crashes.
A 2021 survey of truck drivers revealed:
- 75% of owner drivers have done a run that made no profit
- 42% of owner drivers didn’t raise safety concerns for fear of losing a contract
- 55% of owner drivers had delayed maintenance they couldn’t afford
- 1 in 4 employee drivers had been pressured to drive past legal hours and skip rest breaks
- 1 in 5 employee drivers had been pressured to speed to meet deadlines
- 1 in 5 employee drivers had been pressured to falsify logbooks – a means of tracking fatigue that is required by Heavy Vehicle National Law