As truck driving is such a low status profession in Australia, perhaps, when the country suddenly realises it needs them after all, we should start looking after our truckies. Or, perhaps, we should have been looking after them properly all of the time.
The current situation is highlighting the vital work truck drivers do for the whole country, but the crisis is simply having the effect of exacerbating some of the bad conditions the truckie community has become used to anyway.
Truck stops have always been inadequate and poorly maintained. Processes at distribution centres have always been set up to suit the DC’s requirements and truckies are just an after thought.
Times are changing. At the closed state borders, it will be the car drivers who are stopped and checked, and the truck drivers will be waved through as they are carrying vital supplies to keep the economy going and provide the food and toilet paper we all need.
However, according to Senator Glenn Sterle, and others, the treatment of drivers and the conditions they have to deal with are far from ideal. The Senator has sent a list of the issues to the Minister, Michael McCormack, with all of the problems which have been sent to him by trucking associations and individual drivers.
The problem is the list seems to be the same list as could have been written last year, ten years ago of even thirty years ago. The issues are illustrative of how little effort is put into looking after truck drivers’ welfare and how stoic the truck driving community has been in putting up with bad conditions and a low status.
Senator Sterle is right to bring up these issues now, because, for once, people might be listening. they have suddenly cottoned on to the fact that the truckie community is a vital link in the supply chain, and that supply chain is what is keeping them in food, beer and toilet rolls.
The list of issues will be very familiar for anyone who has spent any time working as a truck driver at any time.
Getting decent shower facilities is a perennial issue, for most truck stops and DCs it is a very low priority. Access to healthy food is an ongoing issue at all times, but is now being exacerbated by the dwindling number of other road users and more kitchens getting closed.
Not having anywhere to sit down, relax and have a meal are not new issues. Neither is the lack of parking and access at fast food outlets for someone in a semi, let alone a B-double or A-double.
The provision of the right equipment to stay safe should be a priority at all times. It certainly is becoming front of mind now, in the current situation.
All of these issues have been with us for a long time, but, while we have their attention, let’s start looking after our truckies, this is a good time to list just how badly the truck driving community is treated and get some semblance of civilisation in the physical world most of the truckies on the road have to inhabit.