The results are in and the two people representing the small fleet truckies on the Australian Trucking Association’s General Council have been named and congratulated accordingly. The winners of the 2019 ATA election were Frank Black(Arcidiaco) from Albert Park in South Australia and Angela Welsh from Blaxland East in NSW.
The pair of them are genuine representative of the smaller truck fleets. Frank is a long time owner driver and has served in this position before. Angela is a newcomer to the role, but she has the credentials of someone coming from a small fleet and involved day-to-day in the trucking world.
These two are worthy people, who will have the best interests of owner drivers and small operators in their minds when they sit down in their first ATA Council meeting and get to have their say.
The elephant in the room, however, are the voting figures. If these two are really going to be able to have some effect on the issues you expect there to be a certain amount of interest in the election which they have just gone through.
The fact of the matter is only 203 people registered to vote in the owner driver rep election and only 123 of them actually cast a vote. Numbers were even lower in the small fleet rep election, only 96 registered to vote and 49 of them participated in the ballot.
In the ATA press release about the election it quoted the assertion that the association represents 50,000 businesses in the industry and 211,500 who work in the industry. The vast majority of that 50,000 would qualify as small fleets or owner drivers.
Where are the voters in the election for one of the only representations they have anywhere in either a government or a peak body? This massive segment of the trucking industry is largely ignored by national organisations and rarely has its voice been heard.
Yet, given the chance to stand for, or vote on true representation at the top table, the industry meets the prospect with apathy. Clearly no-one is interested.
This begs the question as to why no-one seems interested. There can be a few possible explanations for the lack of voting interest and we should examine them carefully as they may expose some ongoing issues for trucking and its representation.
In a release about the election result, the Transport Workers Union were delighted to have got their man over the line as the owner driver representative whilst also criticising the whole process which took place. the TWU seem to be saying Frank is great representative, but not actually representative of the industry.
On the other hand the ATA does not shy away from mentioning how few people engaged in the voting process. At the same time, it does accept them as true representatives even though it seems to be a flawed process.
This brings us back to why no-one is interested. It could be that no-one knew or understood what was going on and have carried on with their task unaware that they could have voted.
This is hard to believe, the ATA put out several press releases about the election and these were carried widely in the trade press.Okay, this is not going to get to everyone, but does get to a big chunk of the industry.
Another explanation could be that people are aware the election is taking place but do not bother to get involved because they don’t believe voting for a representative or the actions of said rep will make any difference to their work or the way the industry functions. If no good will come of engaging with the vote, why engage?
A third possibility is put into the mix by the TWU who reckon the ATA keep the ballot quiet and then make the registration and voting process so difficult, people walk away from it.
Unfortunately, it looks like the main reason for potential voter apathy is the second. Trucking industry small trucking operations feel unheard and unloved. Their voices are lost in the general noise and no-one seems to be listening and these reps are not affecting outcomes
This even explains the TWU argument on the subject. If people really thought their voice would count for something they would jump through all of the hoops to get their vote in and their voice heard, no matter how complicated.
The conclusion seems to be the vast majority of businesses in the trucking industry feel unrepresented on the national stage. Their state and industry sector representatives seem to be getting the message through, but on the national stage?………