TWU says ATA's foreign driver push is 'ludicrous'

The Transport Workers Union has criticised the Australian Trucking Association's proposal to bring in overseas truck drivers

TWU says ATA's foreign driver push is 'ludicrous'
Michael Kaine

The Australian Trucking Association’s (ATA) bid for foreign drivers to be allowed to ply their trade Down Under has brought fierce criticism from the Transport Workers Union (TWU).

TWU Acting National Secretary Michael Kaine (pictured) has dismissed the ATA's proposal as "ludicrous".

The ATA believes overseas labour is necessary to meet a skills shortage in the industry, but the TWU has accused the peak lobby group of having ulterior motives.

"The ATA argues overseas drivers are required because of an inability to find locals to do the work. But recent unemployment data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show more than 20,000 jobs lost in transport and logistics. That’s 20,000 people with the skills, experience and willingness to do the job," Kaine says.

"What they really want is to drive down wages and  rates in the industry further and bring in drivers with even less ability to say no to the impossible demands and deadlines from big transport clients likes Coles."

The ATA in December last year asked the Federal Government to allow foreign drivers to apply for 457 visas.

In its written request to the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency, the ATA argued the industry was under pressure due to competition for labour from the mining sector, an ageing workforce and a lack of new entrants.    

"While the industry has and continues to make attracting and training young drivers a priority, this is just not meeting the driver shortages already being felt in some areas," ATA National Policy Manager David Coonan says.

"The ATA recommends that the [Federal] Government change the Skilled Occupation List to include heavy vehicle drivers in order for temporary, competent foreign drivers to supplement the Australian workforce."

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