TWU SA/NT Branch Media Release, 17 September 2019
The TWU is calling on South Australian truck drivers to make submissions to a Senate Inquiry into transport as the state suffers a disproportionate number of deaths from truck crashes.
So far this year, fatal truck crashes in South Australia are responsible for 11% of the national rate, while the state’s population sits at just 6%. In 2019, 18 people have been killed in truck crashes in SA, six of whom were truck drivers.
The Senate Inquiry was overwhelmingly supported by over 30 industry bodies at two forums convened by Senator Glenn Sterle including truck drivers, the TWU, employer associations, operators and retailers.
The inquiry will look into the viability of the industry including the importance of enforceable minimum rates and conditions, the adequacy of regulation on all stakeholders, training, and the impact of new technologies and the gig economy.
Last week a truck driver was stripped of his license after his truck lost its brakes on the South Eastern Freeway, hitting six vehicles and a cyclist. No one was seriously injured.
“The South Australian community has already lost 18 people to truck crashes this year, last week’s near-miss could have taken us well into the twenties. While we’re thankful that the worst didn’t happen on that occasion, we cannot sit back counting our blessings. Innocent people are being slaughtered on our roads. We have an opportunity with this Senate Inquiry to expose the crisis in transport and reposition the blame where it belongs, at the top of the supply chain with cost-cutting from wealthy clients like Aldi. I encourage all truck drivers to use their voice. For all the times they’ve copped the blame, for pressure to drive fatigued, speed or skip rest breaks, for all the near-misses and friends they may have lost. Now is the time for industry reform,” said SA/NT Branch Secretary Ian Smith.
Individuals and organisations can make submissions to the inquiry until 17 October at bit.ly/TransportInquiry.
A TWU survey of over 1,000 truck drivers last year revealed 93% of respondents said pressure on them was continuing or getting worse. Over half of drivers said the pressure was a result of clients at the top of supply chains, while 69% said it was up to the government to fix the pressures in the industry.
The Federal Government tore down a road safety watchdog in 2016 despite its own report saying it would have reduced truck crashes by 28%*. Since the watchdog was abolished, 629 people have been killed in truck crashes, including 139 truck drivers.
The TWU has announced widespread industrial action in transport next year as 200 enterprise agreements covering 38,000 transport workers expire. The union is pushing to ensure accountability among powerful, wealthy companies at the top of the transport supply chain, like Aldi.