Fatigue laws fail to curb driver complaints

Trucking companies investigated amid warnings fatigue laws are not stopping operators breaching work conditions

By Brad Gardner

Trucking companies are being investigated amid warnings fatigue management laws are not stopping operators breaching work conditions.

The Queensland branch of the Transport Workers Union (TWU) says complaints from drivers over work hours have increased despite governments introducing new fatigue laws in September last year.

Branch Secretary Hughie Williams says there are instances where drivers are forced to cart freight from Melbourne to Brisbane without a rest despite the scheme mandating a break for every five and a half hours worked.

The union is currently scrutinising a Brisbane-based company’s logbooks and timesheets after receiving complaints from drivers, and is increasing its efforts to crack down on recalcitrant operators.

"It is one of the many companies we have been keeping an eye on and we will continue investigating complaints," Williams says.

He has criticised businesses that ignore the laws, which limit drivers to 12-hour workdays unless they are accredited in basic or advanced fatigue management.

"These companies don’t deserve to be in business. They put the general public as well as their drivers at risk," Williams says.

The TWU is banking on the introduction of a 'safe rates' regime, which will set the amount of money paid to truck drivers for each trip.

Although sections of the industry say changing the payment method will not address safety, Williams argues it will take away the financial pressure on owner-drivers struggling to make a living.

The Victorian branch of the Transport Workers Union (TWU) says company breaches are still "a major issue", with a spokesman claiming small operators are the biggest culprits.

The call for safe rates followed a report into payment methods in the industry, which argued incentive-based and kilometre rates encouraged drivers to work long hours.

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