Livestock transporters held up by activist groups
LIVESTOCK drivers in Victoria are facing a new challenge - animal activist groups.
They have been halting delivery to Diamond Valley Pork and Baiada Poultry and other processors around Victoria.
The groups - Melbourne Chicken Save and Melbourne Pig Save - have blocked drivers from delivery on multiple occasions, causing concern in the industry.
The problem has become so prominent the Livestock Rural Transport Association Victoria has issued notices to members on the matter.
"The LRTAV urges all members to remain calm and professional in these circumstances," it reads.
"We understand that these situations are highly stressful and frustrating for you.
"If they do attend processor facilities, protesters may not only be trying to block access to the site but may also try to provoke drivers and possibly also film and/or photograph and video any interactions."
LRTAV president Graham Howell said it could be an unpleasant experience for drivers.
"It is very intimidating for drivers when there is a crowd around the vehicle," he said.
"One driver had a group laying on the road. When he turned the corner they got up and ran straight to the truck waving phones. "At the end of the day they are out to make our industry look really bad."
At the age of 71, John Beer said he had seen it all.
"I think they are increasing and it's a bloody nuisance more than anything," he said.
"The first one I was involved in they had pulled up on a ring road.
We were radioed and told to wait two hours at the servo.
"Then when we eventually got in we saw what would have been 50 protesters and just as many police.
"It is very frustrating, having someone so close to your vehicle wanting to hurt you. We just give them minutes, let them take their photos. We didn't talk to any of them and the police moved them away.
"I just get annoyed. They seem to be able to do what they like."
David Rogers has been trucking since 1992 and has also seen an increase in the past 12 months.
"There have been about three to four in the past year, nearly every time we cart pork to certain locations," he said.
"They want to hold you up, pat the pigs, they lean against fuel tanks on trucks, photograph your trucks and make you out to be a criminal for doing your job."
Chicken Save organiser Liz Birdsworth, who runs one of Melbourne's many 'Save' animal rights groups said the hold-ups were part of their ongoing "vigils".
"As part of the Save movement, we want to spend a few minutes with the animals before they go into the slaughterhouse," she said..
"We had a previous arrangement with another slaughterhouse before it closed, where we would spend two minutes per truck.
"We have no hate for truckers at all. We understand to them it's a job and no different to hauling a load of produce like oranges."
According to Ms Birdsworth, some of the protesters even carried signs to explain their position to the drivers.
"We have a sign that says 'No hate for truckers, please give us two minutes for the animals'," she said.
"Some drivers are really good and do stop for us. "One in the past was friendly enough to give us a chicken from his truck."