Shearer blasts TWU for being missing in action on safety

SARTA boss points to union self interest in safe rates push

Shearer blasts TWU for being missing in action on safety
Steve Shearer


The Transport Workers Union’s (TWU) continued sniping at the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) has spurred union critic Steve Shearer to a staunch defence and to point to union deficiencies.

Shearer, the South Australian Road Transport Association (SARTA) director, also takes aim at the union’s leadership at the same time as they were holding the Safe Rates Summit in Canberra.

He notes that the TWU has failed to attend any of the key industry meetings over the past three years to participate in discussions and debate about key safety issues, despite numerous approaches from the industry, and states that the part of the industry represented by the ATA membership were not invited to attend the summit.

"Tony Sheldon and Michael Kaine have undermined and torn down the excellent cooperative approach that was developed between the TWU and the ATA and its member organisations under the insightful leadership of former TWU federal secretary John Allen who secured major safety improvements together with the ATA and its member organisations," Shearer says. 

The intervention is part of a backlash from industry body identities following a recent dig from the union that the ATA rejected.

Read about the positions taken by the ALP and the unions at the summit, here

"The TWU has the audacity to accuse the ATA and by inference its member organisations, of pursuing their own political agenda and ignoring safety when in fact the TWU has continued to pursue a self-interested industrial agenda which has the sole aim of driving non-member owner operators out of the industry and enslaving them as employees of large corporate transport companies which have high levels of union membership," Shearer says.

"The TWU shamelessly dresses this up as a 'safety' initiative based on its false and unsubstantiated claim that fixing rates will magically solve safety issues, when there is nothing further from the truth.

"In its pursuit of this selfish membership drive the TWU have utterly disengaged from genuine work and initiatives to improve safety.

"The TWU federal secretary has made it very clear at a recent brief meeting with the Industry that he will continue to make statements and claims that he knows are outrageous because he considers that it is the only way in which he can get traction with the media, by conning them with alarmist drama for headlines.

"So the TWU is like the little boy who cries wolf; they know they are wrong and they simply want to pursue their own selfish agenda of destroying the lives and livelihoods of tens of thousands of owner operators and small family fleets and enslave them as unwilling employees of large union-dominated corporate entities."

Shearer point to the work the ATA and its member organisations have done in the development and implementation of the Chain of Responsibility (COR) reforms to the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL).

"Those reforms, which came into place just four months ago, are the key to a genuine improvement in safety, including holding all parties in the Chain fully accountable, especially customers and other who pressure drivers and operators into working unsafely, with very substantial fines and imprisonment," he says.

"The ATA and its member organisations have developed the innovative new Master Code, recently approved by the NHVR, to enable all parties in the Chain to understand what they need to do to ensure that their business practices, contracts and operations as well as the management and monitoring of the safety of their transport operations, comply with the law and ensure the safety of drivers and all others in the Chain.

These COR reforms are the only effective way to tackle the remaining safety issues and the TWU has acted irresponsibly by failing to engage on these genuine solutions.

"Unlike the TWU, the ATA and its member organisations have continued to work hard to improve safety and to secure fair, sustainable and prompt payment for owner operators, small family trucking businesses and all others and we will continue to do so because we are focussed on and determined to achieve, actual safety improvements and to make this great industry safe and sustainable for all, whilst preserving the right of individuals to operate their own business. "


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