August 20, 2014

Transport Workers’ Union National Secretary Tony Sheldon today said a decision by waste company Transpacific/Cleanaway to ground its fleet of 2,800 garbage trucks was further evidence of the economic pressure imposed by clients on transport companies and their drivers.

Mr Sheldon said tight client margins and unrealistic delivery or collection schedules could force operators to delay essential maintenance or put economic pressure on drivers.

“Truck driving is Australia’s most dangerous job, with 330 people killed each year in crashes,” Mr Sheldon said.

“Tragically, that includes the two people killed in Adelaide’s Cleanaway crash on the Southeastern Freeway on Monday.

“We can only imagine the impact on the families involved, and we send our deepest condolences.

“Police are investigating this Cleanaway crash.

“Reports suggest the driver had appropriate safety training, and that speed and brake maintenance issues may have been factors. But nationwide, we’re seeing more and more fatal truck crashes as a result of speeding, fatigue and poor maintenance – all caused by clients delaying essential maintenance, setting unrealistic deadlines and keeping vehicles on the road for too long.

“That pressure is killing truck drivers, and its killing motorists and pedestrians.

Local government are the top of the garbage collection supply chain.

“They have a responsibility to reduce the economic pressure on companies and drivers, and help reduce the risks on our roads.

“It’s time all political leaders – from all parties and the independents – supported action to ease the economic pressure on drivers and cut the toll of deaths on our roads.”

Mr Sheldon said economic pressure on drivers could be addressed through action in the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, a national safety watchdog which sets safe rates of pay and conditions in heavy vehicle transport.

“The RSRT can act to stop economic pressure on drivers and help save lives,” Mr Sheldon said.

“The Tribunal is presently examining cash-in-transit, where drivers can be at risk from armed robbery, and oil fuel and gas following recent tanker cashes in Sydney and rural Victoria.

“We will consider legal action seeking RSRT examination of economic pressures in the waste transport industry.”

“But the Federal Government is “reviewing” the Tribunal with a view to closing it down. If this occurs we’ll see even tighter delivery deadlines, worse maintenance and more deaths on the roads.”

Household garbage collection is presently suspended in parts of Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth, Darwin, Geelong and southeastern WA.

Sydney council areas affected by the grounding include Ashfield, Canterbury Parramatta, Hawkesbury, Hornsby and The Hills and green waste collection in Bankstown.

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