On Workers’ Memorial Day, at around 8am on a cold, Canberra morning, the TWU were at Parliament House, laying down 58 crosses on the lawn, one for each life lost by a truck driver whilst at work.
As those crosses bleakly pointed out, transport workers are still dying at work, and the workers in the industry have been pointing this out for years whilst Governments continue to ignore them.
As the Transport Workers’ Union and many others around the world commemorated those who died at work, another truck driver lost his life on the M7 motorway in Sydney.
The reality for these transport workers and their families is that they are simply road toll, simply a statistic that does not acknowledge the pressure on drivers to get their loads on time no matter what the circumstances in so many companies.
No one wants to lose their job, but no one wants to lose their life at work either, yet for one of the top deadliest industries in Australia, that is what workers face.
Again, for the umpteenth time, the industry needs reform, that reform needs to be from the top, Federal and State Governments must take their share of the responsibility for safety at work in transport.
To put it bluntly, the TWU believes the Federal Government is failing to address the slaughter in transport. The slaughter will continue unless the Federal Government reforms our industry and tackles the deadly cycle that starts with low-cost transport contracts.
According to the to the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE), over the last five years, the total number of deaths from truck crashes was 885, so we also acknowledge the many other road users who have died in truck accidents.
Many of these truck crashes are entirely preventable, but they are happening because wealthy retailers, manufacturers and oil companies trade profit for safety in their supply chains.
Many people did not make it home from work, and for that, the driver cops the blame, when the problem is often not related to that driver at all.
At the TWU we support any measures that can make our roads safer, but this must include a commitment to ensuring safety is throughout the whole supply chain, from the boardroom down. Let us stop blaming drivers who are moving Aussie businesses forward as best they can.