Hundreds of family, friends, workmates and colleagues stood side-by-side at the Tasmanian Truck Drivers Memorial last week to honour those who have lost their lives at work – on and off the road.
The fourth annual memorial wall celebration, established at the Epping Forest Road House in the Northern Midlands, was held on Saturday, 20 January. Twin walls of the memorial carry the names of the deceased while a third is visible from the Midland Highway.
Guest speakers included Federal Labor Member for Lyons Brian Mitchell, Memorial president Tony Whitehouse and Fiona Carver, who read the “Trucker’s poem”. Following personal tributes there was a minutes silence and a bagpipe rendition of Amazing Grace.
The TWU (Vic/Tas Branch) has assisted with a special website for the TTDM, Secretary John Berger explains why:
There is no doubt the hardest part of my job, or for any Union official, is when we lose a member – under any circumstances. In many cases, we knew these members for years, some are former colleagues, many fought with great passion and a sense of duty for safer workplaces and better conditions. Many of those named on the Tassie Truckies Memorial Wall were TWU members. We miss them a great deal.
Honoring the memory of these people is one of the reasons we roll up the sleeves each and every morning to continue their fight for improved road construction and maintenance, for safer and better maintained trucks, tighter fatigue controls, greater infringement penalties to force rogue employers out of the industry and any other thing we believe will help professional truck drivers arrive home safe and well to their families.
The TWU wants to wish all the hard-working men and women involved in the TTMW the best of luck going forward. The entire transportation community is indebted to you. It is a noble gesture to devote so much of your own spare time to provide a place of significance for people to visit that keeps the memories of their loved ones alive.
It also serves as an important reminder for all passing motorists that the cabin of a truck is just about the most dangerous workplace in Australia, and of the inherent risks and sacrifices the brave souls who drive them make.
It is the very least we can do to donate a forum for the TTMW, both to honour those who have left us and for people to be able to ‘visit’ the wall whenever the mood takes them, wherever in the world they happen to be – especially if they are unable to personally make the annual celebration.