TWU launches survey to gauge the state of trucking

The Transport Workers Union aims to survey 1000 truck drivers to gain insight into the economic pressures on them

October 26, 2011

The Transport Workers Union (TWU) is aiming to survey 1000 truck drivers across all transport sectors to gain an accurate insight into the economic pressures afflicting the industry.

As the Federal Government prepares to announce its position on safe rates, TWU Assistant Secretary Michael Kaine says the union is aiming to have 1000 drivers complete the survey by the end of October.

He says around 200 people have already completed the questionnaire, which has been posted on the TWU’s website.

"Although we have not started collating the results, reports back from the field tell us the same safety factors drivers are dealing with now are the same as the 2009 safe rates survey," Kaine says.

"In 2009 we had a quarter of all drivers working a large number of hours each week in unpaid waiting times. We also had a majority of respondents pressured, ultimately by powerful clients into unsafe working practices, including having to work too long or too fast simply to make a living for themselves and their families."

Owner-driver Frank Black believes the feedback will mirror what drivers reported two years ago.

Black, who is also the Australian Trucking Association’s (ATA) owner-driver representative, says the industry will only improve when clients start paying operators for waiting times.

"At the moment, you see another truck coming towards you and you just pray the driver is not being pushed, is well rested, properly trained and in a safe vehicle," he says.

Black says he will table the survey results at the next ATA meeting, while Kaine hopes the feedback will identify ways a safe rates scheme can help drivers, contractors and clients.

"Inquiry after inquiry over many years now, including the 2008 National Transport Commission Report Remuneration and Safety in the Australian Heavy Vehicle Industry, have linked rates of pay and safety in the industry," he says.

The TWU has long pushed for government intervention in the marketplace, and Prime Minister Julia Gillard has committed to acting on its concerns.
The Federal Government released a discussion paper last year suggesting a tribunal be established within Fair Work Australia to rule on safe rates. It plans to announce its response to the paper this month and introduce legislation, if necessary, by the end of the year.

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