The Transport Workers Union has warned the pressure from the Federal Government and transport employer groups are continuing to put pressure on truck drivers, which is causing a surge in deaths from truck crashes.
Although the Minister for Transport Darren Chester has listed road building and research projects, the TWU argues none are tackling the pressures on truck drivers to drive long hours, speed and skip mandatory rest breaks.
“The Federal Government and the industry associations have their heads firmly in the sand over the crisis in trucking. They are happy to pile all the blame on truck drivers for what is happening instead of forcing those with the power to take responsibility: the wealthy retailers and manufacturers at the top of the supply chain. The evidence is there to show why deaths from truck crashes are increasing, and the Government and industry groups need to support a meaningful solution,” said TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon.
“Families and communities are being left devastated because of truck crashes. Truck drivers have Australia’s deadliest job. The urgency to tackle this crisis is real yet the Government continues to do nothing and industry groups stand in the way of a solution,” he added.
According to the TWU, the Federal Government and industry groups shut down the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal last year, which was investigating safety in trucking. The tribunal, which the union says was a world first, were holding wealthy clients at the top accountable for low cost contracts.
Fatal crashes involving articulated trucks have increased by over 7% this year, according to the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics and Safe Work Australia data shows that40% of all workplace deaths involved transport workers.
A media investigation has linked the increase in truck crash deaths to the pressure drivers are under to take risks to get the job done. The union says this highlighted a litany of failings in the industry, including vehicles overloaded, vehicles not maintained properly, long driving hours, speeding and driving schools giving licences without adequate training.
Recently, truck drivers around the country held several major protests over pressure in the industry, including drivers protesting at an Aldi store in western Sydney over the retailer’s failure to discuss ways to improve safety. Protests have also been held at Aldi operations in Fremantle and Adelaide.
Image sourced from Flickr cc: Jorge Lascar