This week sees the trucking industry and its drivers back to being a political football, in a similar situation to the lead up to the election earlier in the year. Then as now sees the safety of drivers and others on the road being used to make political points diverting attention away from the real issue, safety.
It’s all about safety in trucking, and everyone in the industry knows it. The survival of all businesses involved depends upon good safety outcomes. There is no room for complacency on the subject and there is definitely no place for interested parties to use the issue of safety to be used as a stick to beat their perceived opponents.
This week’s stand-off is between the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman and the Transport Workers Union. Each player has an agenda to push and each is using the issue of safety to attack the other.
“Rather than focus on the seriousness of the issue and be a part of the solution, the TWU seem determined to make road safety a political football,” said Kate Carnell, ASBFEO CEO, in a statement. “Safety on our roads is everyone’s responsibility; it is far too serious to be used as a way of scoring cheap political points.”
The TWU response was equally forthright and defensive.
“The Ombudsman Kate Carnell helped destroy a system that was aiming to stop the carnage on the roads by ensuring an end to pressure on drivers to speed, drive long hours, skip breaks and overload their vehicles,” said Tony Sheldon, TWU National Secretary. “The system also guaranteed drivers payment for work within 30 days. Ms Carnell then spent thousands of dollars of taxpayers’ money on a report trying to demonise that system. But it has failed because her report is utterly bogus.”
Yes, the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal was unfair as it targeted one section of the industry, owner drivers, and created an unfair commercial disadvantage. Equally, getting stuck into the union is going to do nothing too get the issue of safety advanced on the roads of Australia, for the trucking industry.
The only approach which is going to get the job done is for a consensus to be reached and the entire industry, operators and drivers, big and small, can then move forward to ensure a fair and safe outcome. A safety conscious truck fleet works to improve the situation for all. It does not use the subject as a political battering ram, to score points and, as a result, obscure the issue.