Opinion

Transport workers must be allowed a seat at the table

Currently for owner-drivers the costs of doing the job are continuing to outweigh the benefit of doing the job. 

Fuel costs continue to increase, Transurban toll road costs are increasing, insurances are up and expenses are even higher. 

Sadly, transport businesses, owner-drivers are going under, unable to break even. The TWU continue to seek legislative support for safe rates for transport workers so they can get a proper rate of pay, paid on time, that secures owner-drivers a living, not just enough to scrape by. 

Fuel relief from the federal government is a farce.

The sheer stupidity of the knocking out of tax rebates for fuel in the federal budget means that there is almost zero benefit for drivers, yet the Prime Minister and his Transport Minister remain silent on the issue. 

The TWU notes that 11 transport organisations, including the Australian Trucking Association, have demanded a meeting with the Prime Minister “to work out a solution to the ‘unintended consequences’ caused by the effective abolition of the fuel tax credit.” 

The TWU previously wrote to the Prime Minister seeking immediate financial support from the federal government to truck drivers to combat rising fuel prices.

As yet Scott Morrison has yet to acknowledge, let alone act on, transport workers very legitimate concerns. The TWU have said before and will say again any fuel relief must put money directly into truck drivers’ pockets to avoid sending owner drivers broke or increasing deadly truck crashes on our roads.

The Transport Workers’ Union have successfully filed a claim in the NSW Industrial Relations Commission for an increase to the rates paid under the General Carriers Contract Determination in NSW. 

This order from the IRC provides some relief to owner-drivers in terms of their cost recovery for doing the job of carrying freight for their clients.

The problem we all face is that Scott Morrison’s government has had 10 years to respond to the transport industry’s problems. 

Ten years where owner-drivers and small fleet operators have struggled on razor thin margins as a result of low-cost transport contracts demanded by wealthy supermarkets, retailers, manufacturers and oil companies at the top of supply chains. Ten years where transport workers voice has been ignored. 

The PM and his ministers must consult with the whole industry, not just big business or the employers. 

The TWU who is the only organisation who represents workers, including owner drivers are seeking a place at the table for their members. Transport workers are industry experts – they’re the ones who know how to work safely and whose voices should be leading the response. 

Transport workers need a seat at the table to make sure decisions by politicians won’t make your challenging jobs even more difficult. The survival of the supply chain depends on it. 

  • Richard Olsen is TWU NSW/QLD State Secretary
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