Opinion

Getting serious about the transport industry

If you are telling me that you are serious about the safety of drivers, safe rates of pay and a safer, fairer industry, then you should be involved in fixing the industry you are involved with.

You would show that you have an understanding that the shared responsibility for industry safety and fairness starts at the top of the supply chain. It involves government, operators, industry associations and transport workers, employees and owner-drivers alike.

We know the lengths that drivers have had to go to during the pandemic, proving themselves to be critical workers.

Drivers have worked hard to ensure the bills are paid, operating while faced with last minute border closures, confusing state entry permits, closed truck stops and continual Covid tests to keep doing their jobs.

In light of that, the TWU are disappointed and angry with the mixed messaging on the value of drivers coming these past few weeks from the federal government and some industry associations.

The federal government tell us they are engaged with the industry yet in the recent federal budget they have not provided funding that will save lives in road transport, nor is there an investment that tackles the financial squeeze on transport by wealthy retailers and manufacturers.

Nothing changes for the pressure drivers feel every day.

The fight also remains in the push for a 3.5 per cent increase to the minimum rate for workers on awards, which includes drivers. The TWU supports this push by the ACTU, we see it as a fair increase given the effort drivers have put in over the past year and given the ballooning profits of retailers, manufacturers and oil companies at the top of the supply chain.

Yet, industry association NatRoad have simply put up their hand and said no, true to form for an employers’ organisation that in the past have tried to see transport workers’ wages reduced and have refused to support previous bare minimum pay increases for drivers.

We don’t think it’s right that drivers should work long hours and yet struggle to support their families and put food on the table as all other costs go up.

The TWU remains committed to protecting and securing what is best for transport workers and small business owner drivers in NSW. We have a plan of action to seek fairness and fairness and equity in transport.

We would urge all transport workers, transport industry bodies to join the associations, operators and clients who are already on board with us in our push for better standards.

So here is how it works. This year, 50 major retailers across the country are to be reminded by the TWU of their responsibility for a safer and fairer industry for transport workers.

They must make sure they are paying transport operators enough to guarantee that their goods are being delivered safely and that drivers including owner drivers are being properly remunerated.

That’s the start of our plan.

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