OPEN LETTER TO LONG DISTANCE DRIVERS

April 15, 2020

Dear Proud TWU Member, 

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been uncertainty and mixed messaging from Governments around the classification of the services provided by truck stops and roadhouses.

We know all too well the vital role that truck stops and roadhouses play in the day to day life of a long-distance truck driver. Roadhouses, truck stops and other facilities ensure transport workers can access clean restrooms and hot food while delivering essential goods to warehouses, supermarkets, hospitals and so many other locations across Australia. On top of this, these facilities comprise part of the National Truck Stop Network which supports the effective operation of Australia’s Driver Fatigue Laws under the auspices of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulations. We know that a roadhouse or truck stop is to a truck driver what a lunchroom is to an office worker.

The TWU has spent the past month in communications with all levels of government to ensure that long-distance truck drivers are protected during this pandemic. In a letter to the Victorian, Tasmanian and the Federal Government, the TWU urged for Governments to respond to these calls from long distance drivers: 

  • The clarity that trucks will still be allowed to cross your state’s borders and that truck drivers will be exempt from self-isolation requirements
  • Clarity about any measures in place at border crossings to check trucks and truck drivers crossing, whether this includes temperature checks on drivers, etc
  • Clarity on any measures in place for truck drivers when they enter the state to protect themselves and others
  • Assurances that truck stops will stay open so that drivers can still access rest areas for food and showers. We are concerned about stops only offering take away services 
  • Assurances that showers and rest areas at truck stops for truck drivers will be cleaned and disinfected adequately.

Following our continuous lobbying of all governments, the TWU met with the Victorian Government Minister responsible for roadhouses. During that meeting, we were given the commitment that Victoria would raises our concerns at the national stage.

The matter of truck stops and border closures was then addressed in the National Cabinet on 28 March 2020. The Hon. Michael McCormack then confirmed that truck stops, roadhouses and other facilities would be exempt from closures and more importantly – road transport workers would be able to sit, at a safe distance, while having a break. However, despite the announcement the TWU continued to hear stories from drivers being told they must vacate truck stops and stay in the cabin of their trucks. 

After consistent and continuing advocacy from the TWU VIC/TAS Branch, we are relieved to confirm that the Victorian Government has clearly outlined and reiterated that truck stops, roadhouses and other facilities used and relied on by road transport workers will continue to operate –  with added social distancing and cleaning activities. It is our understanding that roadhouse and truck stops will operate for the sole purpose of accommodating for road transport workers.

Your Union is in constant discussions with the Victorian Government to ensure that transport workers can continue to have safe work environments during this pandemic. Without truck drivers, Australia stops – right now more than ever, we are seeing the truth in that statement.

If you are experiencing issues with respect to truck stops, roadhouses and all other road facilities relied up by hard working truck drivers, please email us at info@twu.asn.au

Please continue to remain safe on the roads and keep up the fantastic work as essential services workers we are proud of you!

In Unity,

John Berger 
Branch Secretary

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