The Transport Workers’ Union is calling for urgent reforms after three people were killed in horrific truck incidents over the last week.
Yesterday a man was hit by a truck in Adelaide's northern suburbs at Ingham’s chicken plant. On Friday a man was killed after a collision with a truck in South Australia's south-east. Last Wednesday, a 13-year-old boy was killed after the industrial bin he was sleeping in was emptied by a truck on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula.
TWU SA/NT Branch Secretary Ian Smith said the Federal Government must take the blame for tearing down an independent tribunal which was investigating risks to safety in trucking.
“Three horrific deaths have occurred in the last week and the investigations into them will only go so far. They won’t examine the entire transport supply chains to examine the safety protocols in place. The investigations won’t examine the contracts operators and drivers are working on to see if the rates being paid were enough to ensure that goods were being delivered safely. We can expect more deaths on our roads as long as the risks to safety are being ignored,” he said.
“The Federal Government tore down an independent tribunal five years ago that was investigating the transport supply chains leading to deaths and injuries. It was making orders addressing these risks and preventing tragedies from happening. Nothing has been put in its place and families and communities are bearing the brunt. There is a deadly dynamic at play where wealthy retailers, manufacturers and oil companies are demanding low cost contracts, forcing transport operators and drivers to delay truck maintenance, speed, drive long hours and skip rest breaks. The Federal Government allowed this to happen and is now silent on the consequences,” Smith added.
In the last five years, 885 people have died in truck crashes, according to the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics. In the same period, 183 transport workers have died on the job, the highest by far for any industry, according to Safe Work Australia.
The TWU announced earlier this month action in the coming months against some of the biggest global retailers Amazon, Apple and Aldi in a bid to make trucking safer and fairer.
The union is serving claims on over 50 major retailers warning of their responsibility to ensure that they are paying transport operators enough to guarantee that their goods are being delivered safely. The plan for action and protests comes as enterprise agreements for thousands of transport workers expire in the coming months, with operators already revealing they can’t meet modest pay claims because of the squeeze by retailers.