As we finally take the exit ramp for this year, we acknowledge that 2020 has been a very tough year for transport workers and our industry has left no doubt that without the strength of the work that drivers do, Australia stops.
We still have plenty of fight on our hands, we need to ensure that the attention of Government remains focused. Where are the rest area improvements, where is the support for better training for a new generation of drivers and where is the legislative support for minimum payment times that will make it easier to maintain vehicles and ensure a driver is not driving down the road after every dollar?
The devastating reflection on the year 2020 is the silence from Government on these issues. They are happy to put out new speed cameras for trucks, happy to assist corporations like Transurban who continue the gouge on the wallet through their toll roads.
Yet the fact remains that heavy vehicle operators face a significant and growing list of expenses which they are more often than not, unable to recover from their contractors.
Fatigue management is another conversation that is still avoided by those in charge. Drivers still wait too many hours to load and unload after a long run.
TWU members are still talking about the inadequacy of rest areas, for example: “In my opinion there are nowhere near enough rest areas in NSW country. They’re substandard. In 90% of the cases they might as well give ya a hole in the ground. That’s a better option.”
For all the millions of dollars of Government road safety announcements, precious little of that money is set down for truck drivers to ensure they can rest safely.
There are not enough rest areas, and many of those rest areas are not fit for purpose and full of caravans. There is no doubt that this problem will become more evident as the holiday season gets under way.
As 2020 ends, where is the end to the pressure that a driver has to deal with? The inevitable outcome is an increase to transport industry deaths at work which are merely seen as road toll.
The TWU is looking forward to 2021 as a year to continue the fight to change things in our industry for the better.
We want to bring rates and conditions to a standard that respects the critical nature of the work transport workers do. It ensures a safer future for the industry. It ensures you get home at the end of every shift and properly paid.
The TWU salutes those drivers who will keep transport moving to make our holiday season run smoothly and happily.
On behalf of all the members of TWU, I wish you and your family all the very best for this Christmas holiday season, and the happiest of New Years for 2021.
Whatever you do, stay safe, stay strong, enjoy the time with your loved ones.