Go easy on truckies in time of need: TWU

TWU says banks and customers must show lenience toward truck drivers during flood crisis

January 20, 2011

The Transport Workers Union has called on banks and customers to show lenience and understanding toward owner-drivers during the flood crisis.

With Queensland, northern NSW and Victoria affected by a deluge of water, the union says many owner-drivers are unable to meet schedules due to road closures or find enough work to pay their debts.

"The cost of a prime mover can be up to $350,000. It is a large investment to be stuck on the side of the road waiting for water to recede," TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon says.

"With the floods moving across many transport routes, there also needs to be tolerance. Far too often drivers face the same schedule regardless of road conditions, with the threat of client-enforced penalties or long periods of unpaid waiting times if they miss slots."

The TWU says it will monitor driver schedules and hold meetings with major transport companies and customers.

"In the meantime, if drivers or operators are facing pressure to deliver in spite of the circumstance, we want them to contact the union," Sheldon says.

Former Queensland TWU boss Hughie Williams earlier this week told banks to give owner-drivers leeway, saying some might be forced off the road due to loan repayments.

Queensland TWU Secretary Peter Biagini says owner drivers who rely on flood-affected regions for their livelihoods should be able to acces financial support.

"Owner drivers are small businesses and will be facing as much hardship as other businesses throughout the area," he says.

"As the regions recover, these drivers will need assistance to stay in business and recover from the financial hit they are taking now, without feeling the pressure to go harder."

Sub-contractor and former Australian Trucking Association (ATA) representative Frank Black says the Queensland floods have stopped him from delivering goods.

"A lot of my work goes into that area and west of Rockhampton and I can’t go there," Black says.

"But it is not just me, a lot of drivers are affected. Anyone travelling further north is having hassles getting through. It is really affecting business."

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