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TWU will not stop the fight

DEDICATED: The TWU is dedicated in the fight for your rights.
DEDICATED: The TWU is dedicated in the fight for your rights. Kirstin Payne

AS LONG as the industry remains one of the most dangerous in the country, the TWU will never stop fighting for fair and safe rates for drivers in the transport industry.

We are tired of the government, and organisations like NatRoad, ignoring the overwhelming body of evidence linking rates and methods of remuneration and safety outcomes on our roads.

Until they do recognise the link, the serious injuries and deaths caused by collisions involving heavy vehicles continues to rest heavy on their shoulders.

Arguments about employers voluntarily adopting assistive safety technology do not cut it any more.

The value a driver brings when working for a company outweighs the irresponsibility of assuming that a driver is a commodity that can just be replaced.

NatRoad have claimed that arguments put forward by the TWU in our submission to the StaySafe Inquiry into Heavy Vehicle Safety and the Use of Technology to Improve Road Safety, in particular our emphasis of the link between rates and methods of payment for drivers and safety outcomes on the road, are "flawed” and "not backed up by evidence”.

Apparently not satisfied by the 18 separate citations provided by the TWU in its submission - of government reports, independent inquiries and decisions of coroners and other courts and tribunals which have repeatedly found an explicit link between remuneration and safety - NatRoad continues to preach that there is "no link between remuneration and safety”.

Further, despite NatRoad's reference to the National Truck Accident Research Centre finding that, in collisions involving fatalities, truck drivers were not at fault 93 per cent of the time, NatRoad failed to mention the same analysis also found that heavy vehicle drivers were liable in 60 per cent of all other collisions not involving a fatality.

Again, for an organisation so concerned with "the facts”, this omission is telling.

As recently as November 2016, a Macquarie University inquiry into safety in the road freight transport industry reviewed a large body of evidence investigating the link between remuneration and safety, and concluded that "this body of evidence points to a direct link between performance-based payment systems and fatigue, and compelling evidence that payment structures contribute heavily to excess driving hours, speeding, dangerous driving practices, drug use and other traffic infringements”.

Just this past year, 93 per cent of members surveyed by the TWU reported that pressure on truck drivers is continuing or has become worse, with reports that some owner drivers are now working on as low as a one per cent margin because there is so much undercutting in the industry requiring drivers to do more and more runs to meet the financial needs of their families.

The fact that the argument requires "rehashing” by the TWU is only a shameful indictment on the government's refusal to act in providing good policy that properly enforces responsibility on the industry from the boardroom down.

Topics:  big rigs column transport workers union twu twu column

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