The Federal Government has failed to provide any funding or initiatives to tackle deaths and abuses in the gig economy, provide a strategy to help aviation and to address the high numbers of deaths in truck crashes, says the Transport Workers’ Union.
The budget admits a decrease in funding for the Infrastructure Investment Program, including $188.7 million in 2020-21 and $3.3 billion over four years to 2023-24. It re-states money for aviation which was announced months ago and again fails to set conditions for airlines like Qantas receiving the money.
TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine slammed the budget for ignoring safety in Australia’s deadliest industry and for failing to provide a plan for aviation.
“There are glaring omissions in this budget on aviation, road transport and the gig economy, and workers and the Australian community will pay the price for this. These industries have workers dying, road users dying, workers losing their jobs and dealing with grave uncertainties about their futures. We need urgent structural certainty, structural reforms, investment and planning. Yet there is no strategy, no plan and no policy in this budget,” he said.
“The budget admits a decrease in funding for infrastructure at a time when truck drivers and road users are losing their lives. There is no funding set aside to save lives in Australia’s deadliest industry and there is no investment to tackle the financial squeeze on transport by wealthy retailers and manufacturers which is forcing operators and drivers to delay maintenance on trucks, work long hours, speed and skip their rest breaks. The Federal Government has yet again badly let down the trucking community and road users in Australia,” he said.
“On the gig economy we have had a horrendous year of deaths of delivery riders and exposés of appalling abuses. The Federal Government clearly does not see any of this as a problem as there is no investment plan to fund agencies to address it. In fact, the budget does not even mention the sector. This is a signal to the likes of Uber, Deliveroo, Amazon and others to keep exploiting workers and driving them to their deaths because the Federal Government won’t be holding them to account,” Kaine said.
“Just days ago the Prime Minister said the international borders would remain closed indefinitely closed. This will be a huge blow for aviation yet the budget fails to set out a plan to keep the sector alive and keep skilled workers trained and engaged. The budget includes money for aviation that we already knew about but it fails to cap CEO salaries, ban bonuses and ban dividends for the likes of Qantas receiving it. The budget gives no certainty to aviation companies, workers and the many thousands of businesses that depend on the industry,” he adds.
In the last five years, 885 people have died in truck crashes, according to the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics. In the same period, 183 transport workers have died on the job, the highest by far for any industry, according to Safe Work Australia.
Five food delivery riders died while working between September-November last year.
Thousands of aviation workers have lost their jobs since the pandemic began. This includes 6,000 Qantas redundancies and the axing and outsourcing of all 2,500 ground workers by the airline; 4,000 redundancies at Virgin and 1,000 redundancies at Dnata, an aviation ground handler which was shut out of JobKeeper by the Federal Government.
Today is the final day in a TWU Federal Court case to reverse the outsourcing of the Qantas workers.