Activists to protest high death toll in trucking

TRANSPORT Workers' Union activists from Queensland and South Australia are to stage protests around the country before converging on the TWU New South Wales delegates' conference in Sydney this Thursday morning.

Both bus trips will leave their respective states, Tuesday August 25, and arrive as 700 TWU delegates gather for their NSW and ACT annual conference on Thursday, August 27.

The activists will stop off in towns along the way to protest at the high death toll in trucking and the need for accountability at the top of the supply chain. On the Queensland trip a joint rally will be held with the Health Services Union paramedics to highlight similar problems with pressures and fatigue among drivers.

"Major retailers like Coles are squeezing transport companies and drivers by continually driving down transport costs. This leads to around 330 deaths a year in truck related crashes and thousands of injuries. It is the reason why trucking is Australia's deadliest profession with truck drivers 15 times more likely to die than any other profession," said TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon.

Activists from South Australia will hold a silent vigil and lay a wreath at the Australian Truck Driver's Memorial in Tarcutta.  The convoy will stop off at Mildura, Wagga Wagga and Gundagai.

Activists from Queensland will stop at Ballina, Robina, Grafton, Port Macquarie and Newcastle. They will hold a joint rally with paramedics in Coffs Harbour on Wednesday morning.

The delegates conference will be held in Rosehill and will see 700 activists from NSW and ACT gather for training and education, to discuss safety in the industry and to voice their opinions about the future of their workplaces.

"We will be protesting to send a clear message to Coles that we demand accountability. By cutting their transport costs they are ultimately responsible for practices which see drivers under pressure," said Tony Sheldon TWU National Secretary.

The TWU say Coles is campaigning against road safety watchdog, the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, which has heard cases of the retailer sweating truck drivers. 

According to the National Transport Commission, practices by the retail industry affecting road transport "can play a direct and significant role in causing hazardous practices". The Commission adds: "There is solid survey evidence linking payment levels and systems to crashes, speeding, driving while fatigued and drug use".

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