TWU welcomes move on safe rates for truck drivers

THE Transport Workers' Union has welcomed a draft decision by the road safety watchdog to set safe rates for truck drivers to cover the full costs of their work.

The draft decision is the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal's first major ruling on payments and is a first step towards easing the pressure on drivers which leads to carnage on the roads. The draft order puts in place contract and auditing obligations on those at the top of supply chains.

"We still have a long way to go before wealthy retailers like Coles own up to the role they play in the deaths of 330 people each year in truck crashes. But this is an important first step towards ensuring drivers earn a safe wage that prevents them and others from being put at risk," said Michael Kaine, TWU National Assistant Secretary.

"When drivers are not paid proper rates, when they are not paid for waiting times or unloading times, they are put under pressure to skip breaks, drive faster, for longer with over-loaded vehicles in a stressed and tired state. This impacts on our community in tragic ways," said Kaine.

Coles is campaigning against the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, which has heard cases of the retailer sweating truck drivers. Coles - which it was announced last week has revenues of $38 billion - has donated $2.1 million to the Liberal Party, which has signaled its plan to scrap the tribunal.

Along with safe minimum rates for drivers, the TWU is also supporting calls by Labor Senator Glenn Sterle for Western Australia and Nationals Senator John Williams for New South Wales for transport operators to be paid within 30 days. Transport operators are often forced to wait up to 120 days for payment while having to pay drivers and meet fuel and maintenance bills. "Wealthy retailers defer payments from months and increase their profits on the back of it. This piles pressure on an already squeezed industry. We are calling along with Senators Sterle and Williams for an end to this stranglehold on our community," said Kaine.