Opinion

Financial uncertainty in the transport industry

Let me state the obvious. As I recently reminded the NSW Government at the Parliamentary Road Tolling Regimes Inquiry, toll road costs are an enormous issue across the road transport industry. 

While just about every operating cost for owner-drivers has increased steadily over the years, none have increased as massively as toll roads. 

It doesn’t matter if you’re an owner-driver trying to run a small business, or a massive multinational company like Toll Group, it’s clear that toll costs are now so out of control that the road transport industry is beginning to boycott them altogether. 

The TWU tabled proof to the Parliamentary Inquiry that Sydney’s toll roads have reached crisis point: a toolbox briefing put out by Toll on May 21. Under the heading of “Toll/E-Tag Roads Use Update”, it outlined that toll roads were only to be used when authorised and also stated: “In most cases, the cost of the toll roads outweighs any benefit we receive from using them”.

Seven toll roads operated by Transurban Linkt have increased their cost of use from Friday, October 1.

These increases mean that the toll on the forced use NorthConnex, which has not been open for 12 months, has already gone up by more than $1 per vehicle. The cost is now over $50 to use the road both ways. 

Toll roads in their current form create financial uncertainty for the transport industry. The transparency of the deals between Transurban and the NSW Government is non-existent. 

Toll relief is needed, caps on costs would provide certainty, a conversation needs to be had. Decent rest areas also need to be provided on Toll Roads. 

Consultation should be with transport worker representatives, like the TWU, so we can work together to ensure that there is relief provided to the people that use these toll roads and provide certainty in relation to costs into the future. 

The inquiry has been told that it is incumbent on the government of the day to consult with the TWU on behalf of our thousands of members including owner-drivers. The NSW Government must properly understand the impact that toll road decisions have on working families and small business owners. 

Financial uncertainty is not just in the hands of Transurban, the TWU is taking a stand to ensure respect for drivers that are already employed by companies like StarTrack, Toll, Global Express, Linfox, BevChain, FedEx. 

These companies are refusing to ensure jobs are secure for workers already employed, they are refusing to rule out outsourcing of the jobs workers already do. The financial impact on family futures is dangerous. 

Negotiations have been ongoing, and our strong actions have secured some key wins but with several important claims still outstanding, I encourage every member to prepare to take further necessary action should rank-and-file negotiating committees decide it is necessary to secure our jobs, pay and conditions. 

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