ACTION NEEDED: Senator Sterle spells out why truckies need help now in a letter to the Minister.
ACTION NEEDED: Senator Sterle spells out why truckies need help now in a letter to the Minister. Conference Photography Australia

Truckies need help: Senator stirs up action plan in letter

FOLLOWING a media release that WA Senator Glenn Sterle sent out yesterday afternoon regarding working conditions that truck drivers are facing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, he has continued to receive feedback from truck drivers sharing their concerns.

Today, Senator Sterle wrote to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport Michael McCormack offering to work with him to address the "horrible conditions" truck drivers are currently facing at work during this difficult time.

Below is a copy of that letter.

Dear Minister McCormack,

Over the last 48 hours, I have received alarming reports from transport associations and drivers about situations that Australia's truck drivers are facing at roadhouses across the country.

At some sites:

• Shower facilities are being closed. In some cases, people are being asked to prove that they are a truck driver before they are let in and then are being locked in until they have finished

• Toilet facilities are being denied

• Due to staff shortages at some roadhouses, facilities aren't even being cleaned

• Drivers are being told that they cannot access meals onsite in air-conditioned areas. Drivers are instead being forced to eat outside in the heat and amongst flies. For some drivers, this is the only guaranteed rest break that they can take while driving long haul

• Due to take away options only being available now, healthy food options for drivers are limited. This could have severe impacts on drivers who have specific dietary requirements for health reasons

• Due to the size of trucks, drivers are prevented from accessing some fast food retailers all together • At some roadhouses, food sections are being closed completely

• Drivers are being prevented from using the rest/lounge areas while on break Furthermore, I have received reports of the following:

• Drivers are being asked to leave their supplied accommodation during the night without warning

• Drivers are not being provided with personal protective equipment to carry out their job

• Drivers are running out of sanitiser and at some sites, have limited washing facilities for not only their vehicles but for themselves as well

• Drivers have no protections when they enter distribution centres to load or unload.

Drivers have to use the same phone to gain entry and there are obvious health concerns associated with that and around how to complete paperwork without the appropriate and recommended safety equipment.

All of the above points have a direct impact on a driver's ability to be able to manage their fatigue. During this pandemic, our truckies are supplying our shops and making sure that valuable freight is getting to where it needs to go on a daily basis, all while being away from their loved ones.

They deserve much better than this. Being a truck driver is a hard and extremely stressful job. As a former owner driver, running between Perth and Darwin, I understand better than anyone in the Parliament the pressures our truckies face every day.

Fatigue management, tight delivery deadlines and the fear of not being paid in an adequate time frame to name a few.

Drivers do not need the added fear of not knowing when they are going to be able to have a shower, use a toilet or have a feed during the COVID-19 crisis.

Minister, in Question Time on Monday, you described Australia's truckies as the "heartbeat of the nation". I agree with you.

This is why I am offering to work with you and industry, owner drivers, transport associations and the Transport Workers Union to come up with solutions that will ensure that our truckies are safe and have the best possible working conditions available to them during this difficult time.

Big Rigs

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