Where is the plan to help owner-drivers cope with rising costs?


On any given day a typical and essential Aussie truck driver is under pressure, whether local, intra or interstate – rigid, semi or B-double, all are victims.

Logbooks, traffic, road conditions and road works, lack of adequate fatigue management sites, regulations, regulators, enforcement, allocators, in-cabin cameras, customers, suppliers, repairers, and other CoR pundits.

Then there are home pressures and financial worries…

Imagine being an owner-driver right now. They’ve been making a reasonable profit, enough to sustain a comfortable lifestyle for them and the family with some weeks being tight, others being not so tight, and they are never home.

For non-truck drivers and families, imagine not being able to afford to feed the family or make a repayment because of the price of fuel and all other petroleum-based products.

The day-to-day running costs have gone up in price, in some instances by up to 48.97 per cent in one month, with no way of recouping those costs.

Drivers easily fall into the trap of these apparent great contracts giving you $X per km or load. Some blinded by the $ value and with a minimal understanding of economics find they miss in the small print a possible consumer price index (CPI) increase per annum.

Drivers miss the CPI increases, they don’t have clauses for increases like fuel or tollways, or other costs to the business but worst of all they don’t have a clause to review the contract at a minimum every three months. Others simply don’t have a contract at all!

Why? Possibly because they are afraid, or maybe because they didn’t know they could.

How does this specifically affect owner-drivers and small business? Enormously!

A great example of one of the ripple effects was the introduction of the now defunct Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal.

We can argue this out all day, but it was real for the owner-drivers who were being told we don’t need you anymore and contracts, not paid out and simply torn up.

These are some of the drivers who contemplated suicide. Too many succeeded.

How does the driver you love come and tell you they have no income; they’ve lost it all and possibly the house? They don’t!

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is real in the industry and even after years of campaigning, truck drivers are the hardest to get to open up.

No matter how hard it gets, the fact you are together is the good life, suicide is never good for ANYONE.

Too many partners and children have been left victims of suicide and the elements of the industry.

We had great fanfare, expertly curated by the ATA and BP, about the new BP initiative that would see roadhouses have qualified professionals available on site for the drivers.

In essence this is bloody ripper, and what we’ve advocated for since Trans-Help closed its doors and stopped providing the service.

There are also heavily-funded programs, i.e. Healthy Heads in Trucks & Sheds and OzHelp Foundation.

They are for the Australian trucking industry as a whole, but as they are right now, they are great for the larger business and warehouse staff. For the drivers? No, they don’t target the drivers and their idiosyncrasies.

If all these people cared from the NTC down, why haven’t they and the fuel companies been in consultation with the federal government to formulate a plan, to cut the on-road exploding costs of diesel and AdBlue to small business and owner-drivers for a start?

If we could ask the government and petroleum companies one thing, it would be: we love our drivers, do you?

Lifeline: visit the website or call 13 11 14

Beyond Blue: visit the website or call 1300 22 4636

Health In Gear: visit the website or call 1800 464 327

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