TRUCKIE'S RIGHTS: The TWU continues to campaign for the rights of drivers in the transport industry.
TRUCKIE'S RIGHTS: The TWU continues to campaign for the rights of drivers in the transport industry. Derek Barry

OPINION: We need to value our drivers

WE ARE still witnessing the betrayal of drivers by industry organisations like NatRoad and the Australian Trucking Association.

They have continued to miss the point when it comes to safety on our roads and safety in the workplace for drivers.

In recent hearings of the NSW Government's Inquiry into Heavy Vehicle Safety and Use of Technology to Improve Road Safety, NatRoad decided to criticise the TWU Safe Rates argument that shows the links between better rates of pay and road safety outcomes.

The TWU has the credible evidence that proves this, from peer-reviewed, academic sources to drivers themselves, and we will continue to make that point.

Still, the TWU has been deliberately excluded from this inquiry by the Berejiklian Government.

Digging a little deeper, I see that NatRoad's written submission to the inquiry is focused heavily on the driver, in things like the safety features of trucks and roads and the fitting of assistive technology, saying "priority should be given to how we can design out inherent hazards or minimise human error using technology and engineering solutions”.

But the NatRoad "commitment” to these solutions soon backfires elsewhere in their submission where it says that "voluntary adoption is preferred”.

Just goes to showlack of commitment to the men and women working on our roads.

The idea of shining a light on their employer members' practices frightens them - be it decisions made in the boardroom or allocating loads and scheduling.

Despite apparent agreement there are a range of factors that need to be addressed to bring down the road toll, NatRoad will ensure the focus moves away from employers and onto drivers.

NatRoad's Warren Clark will be the first to agree that safety of his own employees is paramount.

How can he deny the need for his members to take this same responsibility for their own employees?

We want to remind Mr Clark of an assertion he made last year, that the TWU does not want to acknowledge investment by governments in infrastructure and regulations to improve safety.

We are very aware of the investment by governments, but we are also very aware of the limitations in that investment when policy does not follow.

NSW Roads Minister Melinda Pavey provided the best example of this in January when, following a horrific cluster of truck- related deaths in NSW, she doubled down on technological Band-Aid solutions instead of proper policy conversations.

As long as the voice of employers is valued higher than the voice of the drivers, the dangers on our roads will never diminish.

We have seen once again where NatRoad and the ATA's values lie.

Big Rigs

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