Tip truck sector in TWU's sights

By: Brad Gardner


Union wants NSW authorities to scrutinise the practices of tip truck operators and construction companies.

Tip truck sector in TWU's sights
TWU NSW assistant secretary Richard Olsen.

 

A compliance blitz like the one launched against dangerous goods operators in New South Wales must be carried out in the tip truck sector, according to the Transport Workers Union (TWU).

Concerns about serious breaches in the sector have prompted the call from the NSW branch of the TWU for government authorities and police to weed out trucking operators and construction companies flouting the law.

The Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) and NSW Police hounded dangerous goods firms in a number of joint initiatives in the wake of the fatal Cootes Transport tanker crash at Mona Vale in 2013.

TWU NSW assistant secretary Richard Olsen claims instances of overloading, lax maintenance standards and illegal dumping are on the rise in the tip truck game and that a Cootes-style crackdown aimed at tip trucks is required.

"Because that’s the way we get companies to take notice. [They] go, ‘Oh shit, we are gone here. We’ve got two choices: we either fix the game up here or we get out of the industry’. And that is something we need here," Olsen says. 

"We’re certainly calling on the RMS and the police, at some stage they need to get into this industry and really clean it up. I think that’s very important to be done over the next six to 12 months."

Olsen says an investigation will allow authorities and the industry to get a good idea of the level of non-compliance among tip truck operators and the businesses hiring them.

Olsen claims the union has evidence of businesses not paying drivers correct rates and superannuation, while some drivers are breaching their fatigue management obligations.

"They’re not getting caught because there’s not enough inspectors out there, whether it is the RMS, the EPA [Environment Protection Authority] or a combination of both," Olsen says.

"There is just no-one out there policing what is going on."

Olsen says the TWU is collecting data on non-compliance and has had discussions with the RMS and NSW Police about its concerns. 

He says he is worried it will take a fatal crash before authorities investigate the industry.

Olsen says businesses contracting out work should be required to show authorities how they are managing their contractors, what they are doing to comply with fatigue management laws and where loads are being dumped.

"We talk about chain of responsibility and yet chain of responsibility starts and finishes with the driver in most instances," he says.

Earlier this year, South Penrith Sand and Soil was prosecuted in NSW under chain of responsibility law for breaching its fatigue management obligations.

The company, which transports quarry materials, was fined $42,900 for its failure to manage driver fatigue or put systems in place to regulate driving hours.

South Penrith Sand and Soil owner and director Peter Spiteri was also fined $40,550, while scheduler Jason Roberts was fined $5,050.

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