Graveyard theme marks start of new 'safe rates' campaign

TWU says companies are profiting while truck drivers die, as crosses are planted on lawns of Parliament House

November 30, 2009

The Transport Workers Uion (TWU) has started a new campaign for ‘safe rates’, amid accusations companies continue to profit while truck drivers die.

The union last week planted 287 crosses on the lawn of Parliament House to represent the number of driver deaths since a report was released last year urging government to overhaul payment systems in the trucking industry.

The report found a link between pay and safety, and the union wants a legislated minimum rate it says will cut the fatality rate of drivers.

TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon says Canberra is the first of a number of planned stops in other capitals and regional centres in the coming months.

"Now is the time to act. Two hundred and eighty seven people are dead while we are waiting for a piece of legislation to be put to parliament," he says.

"Here's companies making hundreds upon hundreds of millions of dollars, literally on top of the bodies of people who have been killed in truck incidents trying to deliver those goods."

Sheldon says drivers need to be able to recover all costs so they can maintain vehicles and not work long hours to make ends meet.

"We have seen people working 92 hours straight working on retail contracts, because they can't get by on what they are getting paid," he says.

"It is these practices which force unsafe practices and ultimately causes death in our industry."

Paramedic Steve Mitchell was at the event and spoke of the difficulties in dealing with truck crashes

"Over a period of time you are seeing accidents again and again and again, and you get to a point where you think 'this can be avoided - what can we do to avoid this situation’," he says.

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