Peak body Road Freight NSW (RFNSW) is urging state transport ministers, police and regulators to act on the Prime Minister’s call for greater support and flexibility on rules for hard-working truckies delivering essential food, groceries and medicines, during the Covid-pandemic.
Commending the country’s truckies for “doing a great job keeping Australia moving”, Scott Morrison asked for greater consistency in Covid-testing regimes and for “rules to be just a bit easier to comply with”, in order to minimise disruptions for frontline truckies working across state borders.
Chief executive Simon O’Hara said RFNSW welcomed the Prime Minister’s acknowledgment of the critical work that truckies were carrying out 24/7 throughout the pandemic.
“Truckies are finding it harder and harder to do their job,” O’Hara said.
“They’re doing the right thing, complying with mandatory surveillance testing, whilst still performing their work, but are being forced to wait around for hours to get tested while under log book hours.
“As we saw this week, they’re waiting in the rain outside Covid-testing stations, being directed to self-administer the tests and then waiting too long for the results. As essential workers, it’s unfair on them and making their job a lot tougher.
“Once they’ve been tested and are back on the road, they face the prospect of horrendous wait times at border crossings. Given the rapidly-changing effects Covid is having on the transport workforce and the wider community, RFNSW is now really concerned about fatigue management plans for our frontline truckies.
“RFNSW is calling on the various jurisdictions to work together to better support truckies, with greater consistency in Covid-testing rules and flexibility around fatigue management regulations. As the Prime Minister said, it’s crucial that we minimise inconvenience on transport operators in these difficult times.
“The message from RFNSW is – it’s time to give truckies a break.”
Federal Shadow Assistant Minister for Road Safety, Labor Senator for Western Australia and former long haul truck driver Senator Glenn Sterle, has been working with RFNSW since the lockdown came into place two weeks ago to address the concerns and conditions drivers have been faced with.
“What we have been hearing and seeing out there from drivers has been extremely disappointing,” Sterle said.
“Our essential transport workers deserve better. It is pleasing however to see that we are finally getting somewhere and I welcome the overdue announcement by the Prime Minister that the National Freight Code will be looked at again.
“However, it is crucial that any decisions made by Transport Ministers on what happens next, must be based on consultation with the transport industry. I look forward to seeing the outcome. Finally, I want to commend Simon O’Hara and Road Freight NSW for their advocacy on behalf of truck drivers and transport workers at this difficult time.”