Over 300 truck drivers, their families and supporters protested in all major capitals to demand an end to pressure in the industry which is killing hundreds of people on our roads every year.
TWU (VIC/TAS Branch) Secretary and TWU National Vice-President John Berger was part of Melbourne’s convoy over the Westgate Bridge.
“Greedy companies are putting profit before public safety. They are not being held to account for the pain and suffering their pursuit of the dollar is causing in hundreds of families every year,” John said.
“And we have a Coalition Government who is turning a blind eye to the actions of its big business buddies. It’s a national disgrace.”
Drivers also took to the Harbour Bridge in Sydney, the Travel Gateway Motorway in Brisbane, Riverside Drive in Perth and Bonython Park in Adelaide.
Safe Work Australia statistics released last month revealed that the transport industry remains the deadliest in Australia, with transport workers accounting for over 30% of all workplace deaths. Transport has been the deadliest industry for three consecutive years.
Deaths involving truck crashes are also increasing and there is a direct link between the increase in deaths and the pressure transport operators and drivers are put under by major industry clients in a bid to lower costs.
In 2016 the Turnbull Government abolished a road safety watchdog that was investigating safety in trucking. This is despite their own report finding that truck crashes had been reduced by 28%. Since the watchdog was abolished 388 people have died in truck crashes and nothing has been put in its place to address the issue.
Truck drivers have also held protests over wealthy retailer Aldi who has refused to address safety risks in its supply chain. Aldi drivers have spoken out about breaches of fatigue rules and harassment when they raise safety issues. One driver was consistently told “everyone else is doing it, you are the only one with a problem”.
TWU Acting National Secretary Michael Kaine said drivers are angry that nothing is being done to address safety risks in trucking.
The TWU and truck drivers are demanding that the Federal Government not only investigates safety in trucking, but also holds companies to account who are recklessly putting profits before safety, at the expense of Australian workers and road users.
Owner driver Paul O’Neill will be speaking at the convoy in Queensland about his experience on the roads.
Ahead of the convoy, O’Neill said “We’re all in this to make money, we all want to make a profit, but it’s time for the big end of town to stop exploiting working people to boost the return to their stakeholders. If you want your load delivered safely and responsibly, you have to be willing to pay a safe and responsible rate.”
A TWU survey earlier this year revealed 93% of truck drivers want to see changes to make transport safer and less pressured.