TWU MEDIA RELEASE, 4 April 2017
Transport workers and activists will hold co-ordinated protests around the country today over transport operator, Northline, which is spear-heading a race to the bottom in the industry through poor wages and conditions.
Protesters will call on the Federal Government to intervene and ensure quality jobs and safety in the industry. They will criticise Northline, which refuses to enter into agreements with workers to give them fair wages and conditions and is expanding its exploitative behaviour by seeking to bring in overseas workers on 457 visas.
“The Federal Government is standing by and allowing exploitation in transport to occur. Northline is an example of the system being gamed – by out-sourcing work and its application for a dodgy labour agreement to import overseas workers as forklift drivers. The race to the bottom in transport has got to stop. Workers are demanding decent, quality jobs,” said TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon.
Transport workers are protesting at Federal Employment Minister Michaelia Cash’s office in WA, at Federal Financial Services Minister Kelly O’Dwyer’s office in Melbourne and Northline’s office in Adelaide.
Northline has also been proven to have unsafe practices in its business: an audit of a NSW distribution centre found serious breaches of fatigue rules involving Northline. One driver had worked for 11.5 hours without a break; another worked for 12.5 hours and had only taken a 30 minute break. Records were found to be poorly maintained.
“This race to the bottom doesn’t only affect transport workers, who have by far the highest of fatalities and injuries of any other industry. Other road users are killed on an almost daily basis because of poor maintenance on trucks and when drivers are pushed to drive long hours, skip mandatory rest breaks and speed,” Sheldon said.
“We are calling today for the Federal Government to hold those at the top of the transport supply chain to account: wealthy retailers and manufacturers are cutting transport costs and squeezing the industry resulting in a high death toll in truck crashes, underpayment of drivers, high bankruptcy rates among owner drivers, high suicide rates, lack of training and exploitation of overseas workers,” Sheldon added.
Over the 10 years to 2014, 2,500 people died in truck crashes.