Opinion

Trusted voice for transport workers

Congratulations to all at the Big Rigs newspaper for arriving at their 30th year of publication. That’s 30 years of ensuring this industry has a place where the voice of owner drivers and employee drivers can be heard. 

That’s 30 years as a trusted platform for the continued voice of advocacy for and on behalf of the transport industry, this is something the Big Rigs editorial team can be proud of. 

The Transport Workers’ Union is also proud to be a part of the magazine and we look forward to the continued support Big Rigs brings to our industry. 

The industry still needs support, truck drivers who have pushed through, putting up with a lot every day just to get the job done still need powerful voices to advocate for them for a safer and fairer industry. 

The deaths continue and Covid rules continue to confuse and in some cases cause fear. Right now, there’s a workable blueprint for our industry that comes from the Senator Sterle inquiry sitting on the Prime Minister’s desk: this is a landmark Senate report recommending an independent body to create and enforce minimum standards in transport, which would also tackle the ‘Amazon Effect’ crushing the industry. 

It’s time Scott Morrison implemented it. Why? Since the Sterle report was tabled in Parliament last year, over 25 truck drivers have died doing their job. 

On top of that we have seen the farcical attempts by governments to fix the problems in Covid affected supply chains that come about from their poor planning. The TWU wrote to the Prime Minister and national cabinet in September and October. 

We urged governments then to provide rapid tests to road transport workers to avoid unnecessary delays and keep drivers on the road. 

We see every day, on the highways, Government signage telling people they need to use rapid tests to ensure community safety. Yet for a transport worker, finding available rapid tests is just as difficult as getting invoices paid within 30 days or getting on top of Transurban toll road costs.

I shake my head at governments who wanted to let the virus rip through supply chains without giving essential workers the rapid tests they need to keep themselves safe at work. 

The TWU has fought for a long time now for freely available rapid testing right across the transport industry. This is an issue that sits squarely at the feet of both the federal and state governments. 

Scott Morrison continues to ignore the problems the industry faces and has been attempting to make it worse, through the forcing of Covid close contacts back to work, putting our industry workers at even more risk than ever. 

For two years, close contacts were treated as those most likely to carry Covid unknowingly. It’s transport workers who have stood up and said they still do not want to put themselves or other workers and their families at risk. 

At risk of repeating myself, it should not have come to this. Governments should have regulated the industry to protect secure transport jobs, but have not. 

Workers have been left with no choice but to fight back for safety, fairness and wellbeing.

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