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Call for Covid testing sites at heavy vehicle inspection stations

testing stations

The Transport Workers’ Union is calling for Covid testing sites to be set up at heavy vehicle inspection stations across NSW highways.

TWU NSW state secretary Richard Olsen wrote to Premier Gladys Berejiklian, calling for the nine truck sites across NSW to be urgently converted to also offer Covid testing for truck drivers – a solution already being used in Victoria.

This would allow drivers to use existing infrastructure to get their tests with minimal difficulty, and without cutting into their important rest breaks.

Under the public health orders and interstate border restrictions, many truck drivers are required to submit to regular Covid tests every 3-7 days. However, truck drivers across NSW are continuing to encounter unnecessary difficulties in complying with their testing requirements, including long waiting times and testing sites running out of tests.

Olsen said the NSW Government needed to provide more resources for testing of truck drivers.

“Truck drivers are critical to keeping our supermarket shelves stocked and our society functioning during the current lockdowns,” he said.

“Truck drivers want to do the right thing and comply with all the rules, but the NSW Government is making that much harder than it needs to be.

“Truck drivers are spending massive amounts of time during their rest breaks waiting in a queue to get tested. That’s a major inconvenience to the drivers, but it’s also a big road safety concern if drivers aren’t able to actually rest during their rest breaks.

“This seems like a no-brainer – the NSW Government just needs to make it happen.”

Below is a copy of the letter Olsen sent to Gladys Berejiklian.

Dear Premier,

On 14 July, I and the National Secretary of the Transport Workers’ Union, Michael Kaine, wrote to you about the difficulties transport workers face in relation to regular COVID testing requirements, and called on you to provide more resources and testing hubs.

Disappointingly, you have not replied to that letter, and truck drivers are continuing to face unnecessary difficulties in complying with their COVID testing requirements.

Under the public health orders and various interstate border restrictions, many truck drivers are required to submit to regular COVID tests every 3-7 days. But as we have seen in recent examples, such as the Taree testing site running out of COVID tests, it isn’t always easy for truck drivers to comply with these requirements.

Drivers are often spending hours waiting in line to be tested during their rest breaks, which is not only a major inconvenience to the drivers but also a significant road safety concern.

As you may be aware, there are nine Heavy Vehicle Safety Stations located on major highways across NSW, which are used to weigh and inspect heavy vehicles. It is our view that these stations should be immediately set up as COVID testing locations.

Using these facilities to perform COVID tests will allow truck drivers to obtain their COVID tests with minimal difficulty and without cutting into their rest hours. I note this approach is already being used at certain heavy vehicle weighing stations in Victoria.

Truck drivers are critical to keeping our supermarket shelves stocked and our society functioning during the current lockdowns. The TWU supports any measure to make it easier for truck drivers to meet their testing requirements, and so should you.

I again implore you to divert more resources to support truck drivers in meeting their testing requirements, including by setting up testing clinics at Heavy Vehicle Safety Stations.

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