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TANKER CRASH DEATHS: LEGAL ACTION BEGINS

August 7, 2014

Transport Workers’ Union Acting National Secretary Michael Kaine said the union would immediately commence legal action against rogue operators in the oil, fuel and gas industries, following yesterday’s (7/8/14) tanker crash on the NSW-Victoria border, which killed three people.

“Petrol tankers are literally mobile bombs,” Mr Kaine said.

“Industry research shows one in four tanker drivers face economic pressure to speed and one in three say they have been threatened with job losses if they report safety defects.

“For years, drivers and the union have been calling government action to improve tanker safety.

“The response has been simple inaction from clients and government alike.

“Three more people were killed yesterday, in a tanker rollover on the Victorian border.

“The causes are under investigation. But one thing is clear – the community can’t sit by while the death toll keeps rising.

“That’s why we’re opening legal proceedings in the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, to force clients to lift the economic pressure on drivers, which is the major cause of truck crashes.”

Mr Kaine said yesterday’s crash on the Yackandandah-Wodonga Road followed similar fatal crashes in Batemans Bay in 2009 when four people died, and Mona Vale in 2013 where two were killed.

“Tanker drivers are at the most dangerous end of Australia’s most dangerous industry,” Mr Kaine said.

“330 people are killed each year in truck crashes, including 50 drivers.

“We’re seeking binding orders to make clients fund safe operation for Australia’s tanker fleet.”

Mr Kaine said the dispute would be lodged with the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT), seeking action to hold clients accountable for skipping safety checks and setting impossibly low pay rates or delivery times.

The Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT) was set up in 2012 to address pressures on drivers to drive unsafely. The RSRT can issue binding orders on industry to lift safety standards.

In January 2014 the Federal Government proposed abolition of the RSRT, suggesting truck safety in Australia was already over-regulated. Mr Kaine said major fuel retailer Coles was a driving force behind Federal Government repeal plans.

“Coles has consistently opposed measures to improve road safety by lifting the crippling economic pressure on drivers,” Mr Kaine said.

“Coles has also contributed $1.2 million to the Liberal Party in recent years, and makes no secret of its opposition to safe rates.

Coles management met with Liberal MPs early this year, and the Liberals have described the RSRT as ‘red tape’ and ‘ripe for repeal.’

“Our message for Coles and the Government is that road deaths are not red tape.”

There are around 1,500 on-road oil tankers in operation in Australia.

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