Pro-RSRT Transport workers blockade in Sydney CBD
More than 200 transport workers have taken to the streets in Sydney today to protest the recent abolition of the RSRT and pay their respects on International Workers’ Memorial Day.
Protesters holding crosses to remember those killed in truck crashes blocked the intersection of Pitt and Goulburn Streets to acknowledge that today is International Workers’ Memorial Day.
Transport Workers’ Union NSW Secretary Michael Aird said that transport workers regretted inconveniencing motorists, but were desperate to bring attention to the crisis in the road transport industry.
"The only people popping champagne corks at the abolition of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal are in the boardrooms at the big end of town who have donated millions to the Liberal Party to do their bidding," Mr Aird said.
"Last year 55 transport workers were killed on the job. Over the past decade more than 2500 Australians have been killed in truck crashes. There is a crisis in the industry but the only person who doesn’t seem to care is Malcolm Turnbull.
"There is more than two decades of independent research establishing the link between rates of pay for truck drivers and safety on our roads – it’s no exaggeration to say that people may be killed or injured because of Malcolm Turnbull’s decision to side with big companies over small truckies."
Owner driver Dave Wocjik said that heavy economic pressure from major transport clients is crushing too many truck drivers.
"I’m lucky enough to earn a decent rate for my work that allows me to maintain my truck and support my family, but every day I pass truckies who are tired, stressed and in rigs that are not properly maintained because of the pressure from major clients," Mr Wocjik said.
Michael Aird said that the Turnbull Government’s decision to abolish the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal was based on a host of lies spread to benefit the big transport clients and those who didn’t want to pay their drivers a safe rate.
"This is not about owner drivers versus employee drivers, this about lifting standards for all transport workers by holding clients to account, so that we can save lives on our roads," Mr Aird said.
"There have been minimum rates for some owner drivers in NSW since the 1970s that have seen these small businesses prosper. But these rates do not hold the clients accountable and they are not nationwide. That was what the Tribunal was set up to do, but all of that work has been washed away so Malcolm Turnbull can keep his big business backers happy.
"We will continue to fight for safe and fair pay and conditions for all transport workers, where the clients are held to account for the safe movement of their freight.
"We will also be taking this message out into the marginal seats in Western Sydney, regional NSW and right across the country in the lead up to the Federal election."
In Queensland a smaller protest took palce at Emma Miller Place in Brisbane’s CBD.