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Truck survey results paint a bleak picture

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According to the results of a new survey, nearly half of truckies know a driver killed on the job and one in two have had wages stolen.

The survey was conducted by the Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) between April and July, with the results only just released, as the union continues its wage negotiations and more strikes loom.

Enterprise agreement negotiations have continued for five months, with TWU members pushing for protections against what they say is a rise in outsourcing in the industry.

This latest survey involved a total of 1100 truck drivers and was open to both members and non-union members.

TWU says “owner drivers have to take risks to stay in business”.

“Three-in-four had completed a run that resulted in no profit and nearly two thirds worried they’d have to sell their truck to get by. More than half delayed maintenance they couldn’t afford, while 42 per cent didn’t raise safety concerns in case it prevented them being paid,” said the TWU in releasing the survey results.

“Employee drivers revealed dangerous demands from bosses to breach safety laws, with over a quarter pressured to work beyond legal hours and skip rest breaks, and a fifth pressured to falsify logbooks which track driver fatigue. Over a third worked more than 60 hours a week.”

According to the TWU, the results found that one in five of those surveyed was pressured to speed to meet deadlines and one in ten reported drivers being pressured to drive trucks that had been tampered with to go faster.

Additionally, the survey said that 30 per cent knew truck drivers who had taken stimulants to stay awake while driving, and one in eight knew of employers offering their drivers illicit drugs to keep working.

A third of survey respondents said they had been injured at work, with reports of irreversible nerve damage, torn shoulder muscles, and several accounts of career-ending injuries from unsafe practices. Almost half had witnessed a serious crash, with one driver reporting that he witnessed his friend killed in a burning truck.

Of the 52 per cent who said they had experienced wage theft, 68 per cent had not been paid for work they had done and 43 per cent were underpaid minimum rates. A quarter claimed they had been ripped off by more than $5000, and one in three said they had experienced wage theft over 20 times. Only 22 per cent got their money back, and a quarter of those were out of pocket for over a year.

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said even more people will be killed in truck crashes if an industry-wide push towards insecure work succeeded.

“This survey reveals the harrowing truth that hundreds of people die needlessly each year in preventable truck crashes. Standards desperately need to be raised but instead are being dragged down by unchecked corporate greed squeezing every last drop out of supply chains and exploitative business models like AmazonFlex and Uber flooding the market. Things are only going to get worse without immediate action,” said Kaine.

“Workers know what happens when good, secure jobs are outsourced to the lowest bidder: safety standards plummet while the pressure on drivers skyrockets. While the Federal Government fails to lift a finger, workers across major transport operators are standing up. Those bravely taking strike action are all that stand between good jobs with safe conditions and yards flooded with insecure work as companies slash costs to remain competitive.”

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