'Just on time' takes heavy toll on truck drivers: Hayes

'Just on time' deliveries take mental and physical toll on drivers and turns them into "mobile storage facilities", MP says

By Brad Gardner | May 27, 2010

The move to ‘just on time’ deliveries is taking a heavy toll on truck drivers, according Labor MP Chris Hayes, who claims trucks are being turned into "mobile storage facilities".

Speaking during a debate on changes to the Federal Interstate Registration Scheme (FIRS), Hayes raised concerns about the welfare of truck drivers forced to meet deliveries at set times.

Hayes says his visits to a truck stop on the Hume Highway in NSW show the practice "has changed the face of trucking in this country".

"They are parked there not because they are resting but because they have been given slot times, like at an airport," Hayes says of drivers.

"They have been given slot times as to when they can arrive at their destination and offload. They are, on an unpaid basis, manning these mobile storage facilities."

Hayes claims ‘just on time’ is causing frustration among drivers because it dictates when they must drive and stop.

"It is no wonder that some of that plays out on their physical and mental condition when they are driving these heavy vehicles on our roads," he says.

"Particularly the owner-drivers do not like the system where they and their vehicles are being used in such a way."

Hayes says his visits to the truck stop — called Uncle Leo’s — to speak to truck drivers gives him an insight into the pressures they are under.

"For the ones who do not [talk], you can still see the apprehension and the anxiety in their body language. Fatigue in that instance really does its own talking," he says.

During his speech, Hayes praised the efforts of the Transport Workers Union.

He says the TWU and its national secretary, Tony Sheldon, go with him on visits to the truck stop to ensure drivers put their health and safety first.

Hayes also supported the 4.2 percent increase to heavy vehicle registration fees and the fuel excise, saying it is necessary due to government investment in the road network.

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