Opinion

We have the opportunity to rebuild our industry

It’s a time to look forward to change for the transport industry. A change of federal government means we can now hope for a stronger and better focus on the needs of truck drivers and operators. 

We will continue to advocate, seeking the enforcement of standards, fairness and safety. 

The reality for workers in transport is that drivers are still being exploited, are facing contracts that in some cases are older than time itself, facing issues in job security and are over-burdened by the cost of doing the job. 

In some cases, operators are wondering if it is worth climbing back into the cab tomorrow, because anything you earn is eaten up by fuel costs, Transurban toll road costs and much more. Members are telling us that it is hard to make ends meet. 

There is a plan available that makes recommendations to lift the standards, makes the industry safer, and supports the long-term future of transport operators in this country. 

Senator Glenn Sterle.

Truck drivers and operators supported the recommendations made in the report, Without Trucks, Australia Stops from the Federal Parliamentary Inquiry headed by Senator Glenn Sterle. 

The senate report came from a two-year consultation with industry, drivers and operators. The people who know what it’s like on the road every day. 

The report makes 10 recommendations that make good sense, and one in particular sums up the spirit of those recommendations and will ensure that the industry works together. 

Recommendation 10, the establishment of a Transport Advisory Group, is about consultation, it’s about the industry working together to make sure that those ministers responsible for the infrastructure, transport and road freight portfolios have an understanding of what is needed in the transport sector. 

If the industry organisations can work together, then workers across the industry have a better chance of working under binding standards that provide a safer and fairer workday, and a chance of making a decent living. 

Right now, the industry standards are losing to the rate of deaths at work and the number of businesses going under. 

The report also recommends a regulatory body, to be implemented in the right way so that it is sustainable and equipped to tackle industry concerns well into the future. 

We know as many industry bodies know that the new federal government’s commitment to regulation will be welcome relief in addressing the supply chain threats that drag down industry standards and undercut businesses.

At this point in time, we have the opportunity to rebuild, enforce job security and safety across the industry. 

The crisis caused by the pandemic and rising fuel prices is not going away, the TWU is planning to stand up and fight to ensure proper reform.

Issues like exploitation need to be addressed, proper payments and rates that mean a driver can afford the investment they have made in their vehicle. 

Our roads will only get more deadly if the financial security and safety conditions that transport workers rely on are further ripped out from under them. 

  • Richard Olsen is TWU NSW/QLD State Secretary
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