Opinion

‘If we don’t have our voices heard, how can we expect change?’

strategy

As partners we always support our drivers, but week after week we see headlines like Fines and fees go up, and 30-year industry veteran is selling up, making it very disheartening as a family and even harder to keep our driver focused.

As BNH’s, we don’t like change or price increases. If this was our favourite department store, we would likely go elsewhere and also expect government and advocates to help us find a way to get through these hard times.

The transport industry doesn’t have this luxury, and in fact the government has removed a financial benefit in the form of the fuel tax credits.

Fines are increasing, compliance requirements are increasing, quality drivers are decreasing, wages don’t change, conditions don’t change, while customer expectations increase.

Dare we talk enforcement? We still have cowboys, albeit a small number, in business and on the road. Given the low numbers, people in the decision-making seats, CoR and drivers must understand that fines affect families beyond the immediate.

Is the fine process working effectively to quell the rogue element, or simply punishing the hard workers for non-safety-related, or minor offences?

Where do the trucking industry associations stand on those issues? Are they still relevant in the industry today?

We currently have just one association, the National Road Freighters Association, that openly represents drivers and owner-operators as their core focus. Of the others, it is found that only a couple will include non-members in their discussions to ensure they hear issues from different perspectives.

Could you imagine what a force it would be if they became truly bi-partisan, combined resources, listened to the drivers, addressed their issues, pushed to have the fat taken out of enforcement and simplify it to help make a safe and cohesive national standard during their representations?

If we work on the premise that associations are relevant, then it is up the drivers and owner-operators themselves to shoulder some responsibility for their choice of association to be their voice.

They need to get in there and help make sure their voices are actually being heard and represented by their chosen association, or participate in other discussions such as the Senate inquiry onto the Importance of a Viable, Safe, Sustainable and Efficient Road Transport Industry.

If we don’t have our voices heard, how do we expect things to change for us?

Many times, drivers are asked to do submissions but not many employee drivers appear to participate. Drivers might find it easier to talk to their partner or post on Facebook with little or no consequence to what they are saying. In many cases, this earns the condemnation or approval of other Facebook posters but not much else. For too long now we have all put it in the too hard basket.

When you read between the lines you can actually see associations are making headway in improving the industry as a whole.

There are people involved that specialise in negotiating for industry, but they are currently only advocating for 30 per cent, or so, of the industry. Imagine if they also got to hear from the other 70 per cent.

Remember, by having membership, you have a say and a vote.

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