TWU protests RSRT removal across Australia

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Drivers and union members protest against the abolition of the RSRT


Truck drivers and members of the Transport Workers' Union (TWU) have taken to the streets around Australia calling for the reestablishment of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT) after the Federal Parliament voted it out last week.

While truck drivers in Brisbane and Adelaide held vigils to mark International Workers’ Memorial Day, the TWU says around 200 protestors in Sydney blocked city streets demanding the Turnbull Government to overturn last week’s decision.

Demonstrators sat down at the Goulburn and Pitt Streets intersection holding crosses in memory of those killed in truck accidents and banners with safety messages.

TWU NSW secretary Michael Aird says the workers regretted inconveniencing commuters, but were "desperate" to bring attention to the situation.

"There is more than two decades of independent research establishing the link between rates of pay for truck drivers and safety on our roads – it’s no exaggeration to say that people may be killed or injured because of Malcolm Turnbull’s decision to side with big companies over small truckies," Aird says.

Truck drivers say that low wages creates financial pressure, which forces them to driver long hours without proper rest.

Speaking at the rally in Sydney, owner-driver Dave Wocjik says the government’s opposition to safe rates only benefits the big retailers. 

"I’m lucky enough to earn a decent rate for my work that allows me to maintain my truck and support my family, but every day I pass truckies who are tired, stressed and in rigs that are not properly maintained because of the pressure from major clients," Wocjik says. 

Others accused prime minister Malcolm Turnbull for favouring bigger companies instead of the workers.

"Behind the wheel of a truck is the most dangerous place to work in Australia and the prime minister’s decision will only make things worse," Trevillian says.

"I’m tired of politicians selling out transport workers because companies like Coles can make big donations."

TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon blames "major clients" for adding pressure on transport operators and truck drivers through low pay contracts which eventually leads to accidents on roads.

"We are here today to tell Malcolm Turnbull we are not going away. Trucking is Australia’s deadliest profession with drivers 12 times more likely to die than any other profession," Sheldon says.

"Hundreds of people die each year in truck cashes yet the government has chosen to turn its back on these grim statistics and vote against a system that was scrutinising safety in transport. 

"In doing this the government has failed transport workers, their families and other road users."

Today’s protests are part of an ongoing effort by the union to continue its fight for standard minimum rates for drivers.

Yesterday, the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) rejected a TWU claim that Kate Carnell did not consult with owner-drivers before expressing her support for the opposition of the RSRT.

Statistics show that more than 2500 people have been killed in truck-related crashes over the past decade.

Supporters of the Road Safety Remuneration System say that the Contractor Driver Minimum Payments Road Safety Remuneration Order 2016 (RSRO) can ensure safety in the industry.

However, critics of the scheme have questioned whether setting up minimum rates could guarantee road safety.



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