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Australia to take road transport safety advocacy global

Kaine and Crouch expand on respective roles at ILO meeting


Australia is set to play a role in shaping United Nations (UN) guidelines and code of practice on best practices in road transport safety and standards.

UN labour agency the International Labour Organization (ILO) will hold a meeting in Geneva from September 23-27, in which Australia – via the Transport Workers Union (TWU) and national secretary Michael Kaine – will chair the workers’ representative group, while Australian Trucking Association (ATA) chair and Ron Crouch Transport director Geoff Crouch will represent Australian and New Zealand truck and bus businesses.

“The purpose of the Meeting of Experts is to adopt guidelines on the promotion of decent work and road safety in the transport sector, as called for in the resolution concerning best practices in road transport safety adopted by the 2015 Tripartite Sectoral Meeting on Safety and Health in the Road Transport Sector,” the ILO notes.


Kaine says a precondition for creating better safety outcomes is ensuring accountability at the top of transport supply chains, which now also includes the threat of “new economy behemoths such as Amazon and Uber Freight that want to destroy the industry chasing market share at the expense of lives on our roads.

“By ensuring the likes of Amazon, Uber, wealthy retailers, manufacturers and oil companies are responsible for the safe transportation of their goods we can lift standards.

“This will have the effect of making transport businesses more sustainable, jobs in transport safer, fairer and more attractive, and it will reduce risks on the roads.”

Read about industry’s concern on online freight matching systems, here

He notes supply chain approaches dealing with causes of industry pressures, and not solely the symptoms of that pressure, have been shown to work.

“That approach led to major investigations into risks in various transport sectors in Australia and resulted in owner drivers being given a guarantee of 30-day payments,” Kaine adds, also citing a Korean system of safe rates and American port drivers winning on classification and union recognition.

“This model can serve as a global blueprint to ensure the financial squeeze on transport ends,” he says.


Crouch, meanwhile, was selected to attend the meeting by the International Organisation of Employers, and says he will campaign for small businesses by bringing to the fore key insights around chain of responsibility (COR) and holding industry customers to account.

Crouch adds he will also emphasise the need for improved and more frequent heavy vehicle rest areas and – in consensus with the TWU – the need to ensure small businesses are paid within 30 days.

“All parties in the supply chain have a responsibility for road safety and an obligation to uphold best practice standards,” Crouch says.

“There is simply no excuse for ignoring potential safety issues, whether you be a driver, business director or customer.

“Roads and rest areas are a truck driver’s workplace. In Australia there is a desperate need for improved heavy vehicle rest areas.

“Trucking businesses and drivers need strong strategies in place that will ensure drivers have access to the facilities they deserve, like proper parking and access to water and shade.

“We also need to see the implementation of 30-day payment terms, a practical and effective measure that will assist owner-drivers.

“Small businesses make up 98 per cent of the Australian trucking industry. They are not banks. They cannot afford to extend finance to large customers.”

Crouch says he will also highlight the importance of strong driver medical standards.

“Drivers must adhere to a strong set of medical standards to ensure they are fit for duty and able to carry out all tasks required in the course of their duties.”


TWU notes an expert paper on safety and sustainability will be submitted to union, employer and government groups setting out the importance of supply chain initiatives to “tackle the poor conditions spanning the lower end of supply chains and how this system can be translated right across the world”.

“The paper recommends two main functions of ‘Safe Rates’ systems; to implement minimum standards for all transport operators and drivers, including minimum rates and cost recovery, and transparency and accountability throughout supply chains to ensure those reaping the profits at the head of supply chains and new economy contract networks are held to account for standards to ensure work is performed safely and sustainably,” it says.

There may not be complete consensus in this area, with the ATA noting that Crouch will advise delegates of Australia’s experience with the now-abolished Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT).

“Transport owners and operators in Australia have made it clear that the RSRT has devastating impacts, including financial hardship, increased debt, reduced equipment values, widespread uncertainty and significant stress on families, relationships and mental health,” Crouch says.

“The international community needs to learn from Australia’s now-corrected mistake.”

The Draft guidelines on the promotion of decent work and road safety in the transport sector are available here.


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