A truck driver has been killed and two others have been taken to hospital after a horrific truck crash on the Eyre Highway, west of Ceduna, highlighting the deadly nature of the job and the need for a solution to the crisis in trucking.
Reports suggest two heavy vehicles crashed head on yesterday, according to police.
“My condolences go to the family and friends left bereaved from this crash. The thoughts of all the trucking community are with them. This matter has yet to be fully investigated and we await the police report. But what we do know is that there is a crisis in trucking where drivers are pushed to speed, drive long hours and skip mandatory rest breaks all to meet unrealistic deadlines. The cause of this is low cost contracts by wealthy retailers and clients which put undue pressure on the system,” said TWU SA/NT Branch Secretary Ray Wyatt.
“The Federal Government’s own report released this year shows truck driving has the highest fatality rates of any industry. It shows a system of safe rates, where drivers are paid minimum rates for all their work, would cut truck crashes by 28%*. Yet the Government is opposed to this solution and as a result it is families and the wider community which are bearing the brunt,” Ray added.
Another truck driver was killed south of Perth yesterday. A Safe Work Australia report recently showed truck driving is Australia’s deadliest job with 583 drivers killed between 2003 and 2015.
Sue Posnakidis, whose brother John, also a truck driver, died in a truck crash in Adelaide in 2010, said: “My brother’s death was not an accident. The driver who crashed into him was inexperienced, fatigued and driving a truck which had faulty brakes. I want to make sure no other family goes through what mine is still going through,” she said.
In the 10 years to 2014 over 2,500 people died in truck crashes.
Media enquires: Ian Smith 0403497525
In April the Federal Government abolished a system backing safe rates that was holding wealthy clients such as retailers, banks, oil companies and ports to account for low cost contracts, which do not allow their goods to be delivered safely. This was despite the Government’s own reports showing a link between road safety and the pay rates of drivers and that the safe rates system would reduce truck crashes by 28%*. An Order delivering safe rates for the first time was in operation for just two weeks before the entire system was torn down.
2. Evidence of pressure
A Safe Work Australia report in July showed
· 31% of employers say workers ignore safety rules to get the job done
· 20% accept dangerous behaviour, compared to less than 2% in other industries.
· 20% of transport industry employers break safety rules to meet deadlines – this compares with just 6% of employers in other industries.
3. Low pay
Many owner drivers are not making enough to get by as it is with average income of just under $29,500 and $29% of them underpaid (this is based on an analysis by PriceWaterhouseCoopers of the 2006 census which was included in the regulatory impact statement for the Road Safety Remuneration Bill 2011). Transport companies are consistently in the top five industries for insolvency, with the vast majority of them small firms with five or less full-time employees.
According to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, transport operators have one of the highest rates of insolvencies of any industry and small firms of five full time employees or less are the most likely to go bankrupt. In the financial year to June 2015 there were 275 insolvencies among these small operators. In the financial year before that there were 548 insolvencies. The main reason for the insolvencies was inadequate cash flow.
Suicide is currently rampant among truck drivers. A study by Deakin University showed 323 truck drivers committed suicide between 2001 and 2010. (Suicide among male road and rail drivers in Australia: a retrospective mortality study). An analysis by the Victorian coroner’s court showing truck drivers had the highest number of suicides out of any other profession, with 53 drivers taking their own lives between 2008 to 2014.
6. The Liberal Party and its financial donors
The Liberal National Party receives billions of dollars in donations from retailers, banks and oil companies – which were all in line to be held to account for safety and poor rates in trucking by the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal. A financial link of $7 million exists between the Liberal National Party and Wesfarmers, the major retailer which opposes the Tribunal. Of this there is a $5.3 million link in the form of dividends drawn down from Wesfarmers shares owned by the Cormack Foundation, an associated entity of the Liberal Party. A further $1.7 million in political donations was given by Wesfarmers and Coles to the Liberal and National parties.
* PricewaterhouseCoopers “Review of the Road Safety Remuneration System Final Report January 2016” (PWC Review 2016 – published by the Commonwealth Department of Employment on 1 April, 2016)
Jaguar Consulting Pty Ltd “Review of the Road Safety Remuneration System 16 April, 2014 (Jaguar Consulting 2014 – published by the Commonwealth Department of Employment on 1 April, 2016)