Forget bigger trucks, higher wages a must: TWU

TWU criticises focus on bigger trucks as freight task increases, saying drivers need better pay conditions

Forget bigger trucks, higher wages a must: TWU
Forget bigger trucks, higher wages a must: TWU
By Brad Gardner | October 1, 2010

The Transport Workers Union has criticised a focus on bigger trucks to cope with a growing freight task, saying more attention should be paid to improving driver pay conditions.

Following the release of figures earlier this week forecasting the freight task to almost double between 2008 and 2030, the Australian Trucking Association called for greater access for super B-doubles and B-triples to meet demand.

But TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon says the number of deaths in road transport is just as important yet nothing is being done about it.

"According to the NRMA, since 1989 there have been 3835 deaths in the road transport industry and over 300 people have been killed each year at the moment," Sheldon says.

"This figure is rising at a rate much bigger than the freight task but it does not get the same attention from the big end of town. They just want bigger trucks."

Sheldon says remuneration methods in the industry need to be reformed, reiterating the union’s push for ‘safe rates’ to ensure drivers are paid enough to make ends meet.

"While the costs associated with the industry are going up - the payments made by clients seem to be stagnant, with pressure building the further down the supply chain you go," he says.

"We need safe rates now. The road toll can't be allowed to grow with the industry."

The Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) earlier this week forecast the freight task to grow 1.8 times between 2008 and 2030 and to grow by 2.67 percent annually.

The interstate task is expected to more than double (2.3 times) and capital city freight will grow 1.7 times over the same period.

"To deliver these products efficiently, we will need to be able to use safer trucks with greater capacity on more roads," ATA CEO Stuart St Clair says.

Super B-doubles are capable of carrying two 40 foot containers and St Clair says they can halve the number of truck trips and reduce the number of kilometres travelled by 25 percent.

"Two B-triples can do the work of three B-doubles or five semi-trailers," St Clair says.

The rise in the freight task will cause the number of tonnes per kilometre to rise from 191.5 billion to 342.03 billion nationally between 2008 and 2030.

According to the BITRE, the interstate task will grow by 3.8 percent annually and the capital city task will increase by 2.33 percent each year.

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