Saturday’s Federal election should be a referendum on a fair go for truckies and safer roads for all Australians, with the major parties’ transport policies in the headlights, said Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) National Secretary Tony Sheldon.
Speaking at the Freight Week 2013 conference in Melbourne, organised by the Victorian Transport Association and the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce, Mr Sheldon said the future of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal would be under question if the Coalition wins the election.
“The Tribunal was established by the Labor Government to oversee rates and conditions across the transport sector. It has released its first draft order and the TWU believes that this should go further to tackle the role of major retail clients in dictating transport industry standards.
“But while we are pushing for the Tribunal to toughen up, Tony Abbott has publicly questioned the very reason for the Tribunal’s existence.
“Earlier this year, Mr Abbott put the Tribunal on the Coalition’s hit list by pledging to ‘urgently review’ the Tribunal should he win the election.
“More than 20 years of evidence from coroners, cross-party inquiries and independent academic research has shown time and again the link between rates of pay for truck drivers and safety on our roads.
“Unrealistic deadlines and demands from major retailers and other big clients pressure truckies to drive when they’re fatigued, to drive faster than they should, and to push the envelope simply to stay afloat.
“This sort of pressure is putting the lives of truck drivers at risk – along with the lives of every other road user.
“Driving a truck is the most dangerous job you can do in Australia, with a workplace fatality which is 11 times the average for all other workers.
“Hundreds of Australians are killed in truck crashes each year, and thousands more are injured, and it’s past time this critical issue was given the attention that it desperately deserves.”
Mr Sheldon said the TWU had asked all election candidates to sign a pledge supporting Safe Rates in the trucking industry. Voters can see where their local candidates stand on road safety by checking to see if they have signed the pledge at www.saferates.org.au/supporters/
“I encourage all voters to check out the Safe Rates web site to see which candidates support Safe Rates and safer roads, and vote accordingly.” Tony Sheldon concluded.