Truckie stands up to fight TWU leadership
"WE SHOULD be the strongest union in the country but instead we're a bit of a laughing stock."
Those are the words of truckie Luke McCrone, who is challenging the leadership of the Victorian and Tasmanian Transport Workers Union Branch with his "TWU Fightback" campaign.
Mr McCrone, a former TWU official who spend almost a decade in the union and left just over a year ago.
He said decided to run for leadership because he "wasn't happy with the direction they were taking".
He told Big Rigs there was a big disconnect between what members wanted and what the organisation was delivering.
"I thought the union was on the wrong track and something needed to change," he said.
"It's been 25 years since anyone has contested (the branch leadership) and I thought it's time the members had a say in who ran the union."
Since he left the union, Mr McCrone bought his own truck and started working as an owner-operator.
Luke believes he can fight for union members better than those in current leadership roles because he understands what it's like to work as a truckie and is out there, engaging with the industry every single day.
He said union membership needed to grow as it was "unusual to find a truck driver who was a member".
"We have to change that, and we need to stop focusing just on the big companies," he said.
"There's no point going to Toll and Linfox and hitting them up for a pay rise if we're not brining the bottom tier up as well.
All that will happen is all those companies that are paying reasonable wages will be rendered uncompetitive, so we need to be out there tackling these non-union companies.
"It's not easy work but it's work that needs to be done and once we've done that we can improve conditions across the industry."
Mr McCrone said he would also look at wages of union officials if he snagged leadership.
He said he would reduce the secretary and assistant secretary's wages and use the money saved from that to start up a legal defence fund to help members who were involved in fatal road accidents and other incidents.
"Not only can it be difficult emotionally, but it can be financially crippling too," he said.
He said he also wanted the TWU to look at its position on the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal.
"I haven't met a truck driver who had supported the tribunal and it did a lot of damage to the industry," he said.
Ballot papers have been distributed to members of the TWU Victoria and Tasmania branch and votes are due by November 30, when counting will take place at midday.
You can find out more about Mr McCrone's campaign here.