Honorary Member Kenneth Rice retired from the workforce recently and wrote the following kind words in to the VIC/TAS Branch –
“I wish to thank the TWU for your support throughout my 43 years as a member. I very much appreciate your backing and representation throughout my working life. The TWU provided a wonderful working life for me and I will now enjoy retirement for the rest of my life.”
Ken we can honestly say it was a pleasure representing such a very loyal and committed member as yourself.
Many truck driving members will recognise Ken’s blue-collar, honest and hard-working ‘everyday Australian’ story below as similar to their own. The truck drivers story is an always eventful, often fun and sometimes difficult journey of balancing financial and family pressures, fighting for a for go, working up the ranks and sitting behind many a different wheel.
And who better to tell the tale than Ken himself:
Kenneth Rice receiving his 40-year membership certificate from Senior Organiser John Parker.
“I packed groceries and wines for a company called Johnstone & Wilmot after leaving school. The company delivered to businesses large and small and eventually I was ‘promoted’ to delivery offsider.
“I became a member of the TWU in 1973 and, going further up the ‘corporate ladder’, I was given the job of driving a brand new 3-tonne Isuzu truck. On reaching the next ‘rung on the ladder’ I was put behind the wheel of a V8 345 International C-1800 and delivered from Penguin to Smithton some days and to the West Coast on others. All loading and unloading was done by hand and then barrowed into store rooms. I delivered for Johnstone & Wilmot for thirteen years until the company closed its doors.
“I then began driving for Skyroads. It was all night work – which did not agree with a young family – and so I left after six months to take up a role with Holymans. During my time at Holmans I earned my semi licence and started on a 4-tonne Isuzu delivering Ansett Airfreight before moving through the fleet to a N7 Volvo, then a MAN and finishing on an International T/Line.
“In 1986 I joined West Coast Transport in Wivenhoe and was given a DAF 2800 with a 280-HP, 16-speed ZF gearbox, which I drove for eleven years. I then got to drive a brand new Scania 4 Series that was actually the first one sold in Australia and featured in Truckin’ Life Magazine. This truck was driver-friendly and a very comfortable ride and I carted every conceivable freight, including specialised equipment, to-and-from the West Coast mines and anywhere else around Tasmania.
“I was also one of the first three people to get a B/Double licence in Tasmania and my first ride was a Scania 460HP followed by a Freightliner Argosy with a 600 Cummins engine. After a couple of years on shift work, I was given a B/Double Lime Powder/Cement Tanker to deliver from Mole Creek to all over the state. I did this for over 20 years and actually enjoyed the early starts of 1 and 2am because it was a good time of day to travel with quite a bit of excitement in the snow. However, the early starts and late finishes were difficult for the rest of the family.
“Although I like the new driving hours and enforced rest periods, none of my bosses ever pushed me to work long hours. We did have a choice to say ‘no’. But mostly I was after the overtime pay. Therefore many of us worked 20 hour days…..until the law was changed!
“Like so many others who are involved in the transport business I have seen a lot of change and not always for the better. There were times when new rules and regulations had us concentrating so hard on what we were NOT allowed to do, it interfered with what we were supposed to do.
“I would like to acknowledge De Bruyn Transport for 31 years of employment. My time there was interesting and enjoyable. Thanks also to the co-workers, drivers and TWU representatives in each depot. And a special “Thank You” to current TWU Tasmania North Organiser Steve Moszko.
“I nearly forgot……due to a heart operation and the Pacemaker/Defibrillator implant I am not permitted to drive commercial vehicles so had to retire 12 months early.
“The TWU provided a wonderful working life for me and I will now enjoy retirement for the rest of my life.”