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Truck convoys drive home safety message to Canberra

convoy

Hundreds of truckies took part in convoys around Australia at the weekend to hammer home their message to Canberra that the industry urgently needs a “standard-setting body” to improve safety for drivers.

Although predominantly driven by the Transport Workers’ Union, complete with its safe rates banners from past campaigns, the convoy also received backing from National Road Freighters Association (NRFA) and the Australian Road Transport Industrial Organisation (ARTIO).

NRFA president Rod Hannifey said the association run by truckies joined the convoy to Canberra to show that the industry is united behind reform and to call for urgent action on the 10 recommendations of a detailed Senate report tabled last year.

“Truck drivers and truck companies share the same concerns about the current crisis in transport,” said Hannifey.

“The industry is at breaking point and everyone is feeling it. That’s why we’ve come together for change.”

Added NRFA board member Chris Roe from the makeshift stage in front of Parliament House:  “Excuse our impatience when we’re told legislation takes time.

“We’re the truck drivers who dealt with snap border closures and covid rule changes. We want the same efficiency to legislate safer standards in transport.

“There’s much more in the transport industry that unites us than divides us. That’s why we’re calling on the federal government for fairness and safety as a whole industry.”

convoy
NRFA board member Chris Roe addresses the crowd in Canberra.

ARTIO secretary Peter Anderson said transport companies who’ve kept this country moving for years are stuck between a rock and a hard place under pressure to slash costs to compete in an unbalanced, unfair, and unsafe market.

“We need urgent reform to provide a safety net for everyone and return healthy competition to one of Australia’s most essential industries.”

Senator Glenn Sterle, who was also in attendance on the day, was thrilled with the turnout in support of a safer industry.

“Our industry is in trouble. I am looking forward to working with Tony Burke MP to implement minimum standards and stop the squeeze on transport from the top of the supply chain,” said Sterle on his Facebook page.

High-profile convoy participant ACFS managing director and CEO, Arthur Tzaneros, said employers and workers in transport supply chains are alike: “We’re all feeling the same pressure.

“We have the Amazon Effect delivering below minimum wages and conditions that don’t exist as they would at traditional operators. Unregulated business models like AmazonFlex are having a devastating effect on wages, conditions, safety and sustainability. We urgently need the federal government to act on a standard-setting body.”

Over 100 vehicles took part in the convoy to Parliament House in Canberra, while local convoys also passed state parliaments in Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

TWU Victoria branch assistant secretary Mem Suleyman shared a tweet about a “peaceful” convoy over the Westgate Bridge.

“This convoy is about life-saving reform,” he tweeted.

“Transport is Australia’s deadliest industry and dangerous pressures are getting worse. The system is broken, we need a #SafeRates system to set fair standards for all transport workers!”

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