TWU RSRT protest holds up Sydney streets

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The group demands the government to bring back the 'safe rates' RSRO to tackle road safety issues in the industry


With the election campaign heating up, opposing sides of the transport industry are trying to highlight their concerns over the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT’s) minimum rates order.

Transport Workers' Union (TWU) members, truck drivers, and other transport workers blocked traffic on the York and King Streets intersection in Sydney in a show of protest against the termination of the ‘safe rates’ order.

Protestors blocked the streets holding white crosses and white boots in memory of those killed in truck crashes last month.

The group demanded the federal government reinstate the Contractor Driver Minimum Payments Road Safety Remuneration Order 2016 (RSRO) to help combat road safety issues in the transport industry.

"The evidence from Safe Work Australia clearly shows the pressure drivers are under: one in three transport employers say their workers break safety rules to get the job done," TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon says.

"Malcolm Turnbull needs no more evidence. He needs to act to make our jobs and our roads safer.

"Truck drivers have a right to be safe at work and they have a right to be paid a minimum rate for all their work.

"Everyone else has a right to feel safe on the road and not be at risk because of low cost contracts by wealthy clients which force drivers to speed, drive long hours, skip mandatory rest breaks and skip maintenance on their trucks.

"We are demanding that the government honour these rights now."

This is a second such protest by the group that blocked Sydney CBD streets and held vigils in Brisbane and Adelaide last month.

The union says that "truck driving is the most dangerous job in Australia with 55 transport workers killed on the job in 2015" and more than 2500 killed in truck-related crashes over a decade.

It says the ‘safe rates’ RSRO can help tackle issues that lead to the "high death toll in trucking."

Critics of the RSRT have argued that there is no link between road safety and minimum wages and the ‘safe rates’ RSRO will not be able to guarantee driver safety.

New figures released this week by the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) show that the rate of fatal articulated truck crashes dropped by 80 per cent between 1982 and 2015.

Earlier, Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) said that it will investigate the impact of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT’s) minimum rates order on small business owner-drivers – something the union deems a "waste of taxpayers’ money".



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