With the slogan ‘Take It Back To Sydney’, NatRoad are showing a different way to approach the issues which directly affect the trucking industry. It seems the fight earlier in the year to bring down the RSRT has given the association a new lease of life.
The association seems to be getting back in touch with its roots, in more ways than one. Yes, it is working hard to engage the grass roots membership and issues calls to action, like the take it back to Sydney website and petition.
This is the fight against the iniquitous extension of the General Contract Carriers Determination from a Sydney area freight rates control structure into one covering the whole of New South Wales, and, by implication, involving a massive proportion of the trucking industry. It’s the RSRT in another guise.
NatRoad reckon 13,000 trucking businesses could be hit with a potential 30 per cent hike in rates with $10,000 in potential fines for non-compliance. This, like the RSRT, is unlikely to affect the big players, but will see transport companies shying away from hiring smaller owner/driver type operations to handle some of their work.
There is a petition to sign on the website. NatRoad are calling for 10,000 signatures to get the issue raised in the NSW Parliament.
This kind of aggressive issue-based activity recalls earlier days in the history of the association. In the late eighties, the National Transport Forum, which later united with the Long Distance Road Transport Association to form NatRoad, campaigned in a similar style.
In fact, it campaigned in a much more aggressive style. The NTF was not afraid of getting people’s backs up and creating a bit of well directed havoc. This activity, taking on the major interests controlling freight at the time, simply reflected the fears and frustrations of a wide range of smaller road transport players around the country.
Now, those blockades, black bans and court appearances were also targeted to cause the most disruption possible, but they were desperate times. The trucking industry was out of control and, in many cases, its own worst enemy, but these were people with genuine concerns. There was also a culture of completely ignoring the rules and carrying on regardless at the time, which exacerbated issues.
In the intervening 25 to 30 years the world has changed. The culture in trucking has now embraced change and needs to be seen as safe and compliant. Running a trucking operation requires a calm head and rational safe systems, even at the owner/driver level.
However, this doesn’t mean we can’t get a fire in the belly when a major issue puts its head above the parapet. There is passion in this industry and it’s part of what makes working in trucking so worthwhile.
Sometimes, I think we are losing some of that passion and turning trucking into any other industry. Then I see campaigns like the one against the RSRT, and now this one against the GCCD and my faith in the truckie’s nature is restored.