TWU Acting National Secretary Michael Kaine has slammed the call from the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) for trucking companies to be granted free reign to bring in overseas drivers as a ludicrous proposal that deliberately ignores the root causes of the crisis in the trucking industry.
TWU MEDIA RELEASE, 5 January 2014
"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.
"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.
"Truck driving is already the most dangerous job in Australia with a death rate that is 15 times the average for all other workers. Every year hundreds of people are killed in truck crashes, devastating families and communities across the country.
"More than 20 years of evidence shows the link between rates of pay for drivers and safety on our roads, but instead of addressing the root causes of the crisis, the ATA wants to paint over the cracks by importing overseas labour vulnerable to exploitation and bullying.
"The answer to the issues in the trucking industry must be an end to the economic squeeze from big clients like Coles and Safe Rates for truck drivers, with fair wages, safe working conditions and improved training.
"People from overseas will always be welcome in Australia, but we must make sure that our labour system is fair and that it works in the national interest, not just the interest of big companies and their lobby groups," concluded Michael.
In 2012 the Federal Government introduced the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal to address the safety crisis in trucking - but this is now under threat, with the new Government conducting an "urgent review" of the Tribunal with the intention of scrapping it before it has the chance to save lives and make the industry safer.