LAST Monday I joined more than 150 truck drivers and their families in a march across Sydney to protest against the lethal economic pressures being placed on truck drivers by retail giant Coles.
Coles drivers are pushed to the edge just to make ends meet. In a recent survey of drivers in the Coles Supply Chain;
46% of drivers reported economic pressure to skip rest breaks;
28% were pressured to speed; and
26% were pressured to carry illegally overweight loads.
The devastating result of these pressures is that truck driving is Australia's most dangerous job; with drivers 15 times more likely to be killed at work than in any other national industry. Each year around 330 people are killed in truck-related crashes and a further 5000 are seriously injured.
Is it any wonder our truck drivers are angry? If this happened in any other industry there'd be a Royal Commission.
After decades of campaigning by the TWU the Federal Government finally established a road safety watchdog, the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT) to tackle this problem from the top and its positive effect is just starting to be felt.
But Coles and parent company Wesfarmers have been busy in Canberra, donating $2.1 million to the Liberal and National parties. The Federal Government in turn, despite mountains of independent reports and overwhelming evidence linking rates of pay for drivers to road safety, seems set on abolishing the RSRT under the guise of removing red tape!
Our protest march, one of a number across the country, took place the same day that the new Federal Senate took its seat in Canberra.
When Abbott moves, as expected, to abolish the RSRT, it will be up to this Senate to stop him. But regardless of what the politicians decide, the TWU will keep sticking up for truckies and doing whatever is necessary.
If you want to help us show the politicians that road safety is not red tape then go to http://www.saferates.org.au