Escalating truck driver mistreatment alarms RFNSW

Service stations, customers and enforcement on notice over outbreak response

Escalating truck driver mistreatment alarms RFNSW
Simon O'Hara


The treatment of truck drivers during the Covid-19 pandemic was thrown into sharp relief again with Road Freight NSW (RFNSW) relaying member incidents as Greater Sydney’s Covid-19 outbreak escalates.

In a series of communiques, CEO Simon O’Hara expressed his shock at reports of truck drivers being barred from service station rest areas and facilities, and private companies that take deliveries refusing drivers the use of the facilities and directing them to shopping malls and council toilets.

"Of course, some council toilets are closed and truckies find it difficult to park their truck and trailers in areas designated for light vehicles," O’Hara noted.

"I heard that NSW Police have moved on truckies from some service station facilities."

O’Hara included an anecdote of a road-freight customer, as a response to the latest outbreak, prohibiting a linehaul driver from using toilets an lunchroom and its depot and providing addresses of local truck stops.

"This sort of approach isn't good enough," O'Hara said.

"You can't park an A-double in a shopping mall carpark and whiz into the loo quickly.

"You can’t pull over in a inner west Sydney street discretely and run into a local cafe or shop!"

RFNSW warned that it will "name and shame" businesses or individuals who won't allow truck drivers "basic decency and respect while they perform their essential service for our community". 

O’Hara noted he has referred the matter to NSW Police.

"As a consequence, I have reached out to the NSW Police and had a really good conversation with Superintendent Tony Boyd from the Highway Patrol (covering the area from the Harbour Bridge to the QLD Border) who has told me that NSW Police will not be stopping truckies from using service station facilities.

"Tony has confirmed this with the Police Operations Command (POC).

"Tony has also said that NSW Police will not be stopping anyone who is putting food on the shelves.

"Great news to hear from Tony."

The loud voices for truck driver vaccination priority, here

Despite this interaction, in his latest update today, O’Hara called out at an example of heavy-handed enforcement in conflict with essential work orders.

"This morning at 3.30am, one of our RFNSW truckies started work in Newcastle.

"Every day our truckies from Newcastle do the run to Sydney and back. 

"This morning, our RFNSW truckie travelled to Ingleburn and Port Botany and was returning to Newcastle.

"The truckie stopped for a break at the Caltex 'twin servo' northbound.

"A highway patrol officer from NSW Police approached our truckie.

"Highway patrol asked the truckie if he had been to Sydney.

"The truckie responded that he had been to Ingleburn dropping off steel coil and then drove to Port Botany picking up empty containers.

"The truckie said he was returning to Newcastle with the empty containers."

"The NSW Police Officer directed the truckie to head directly home and self-isolate for 14 days.

"The operator of the business, a member of ours, said to me that if they did that they would need to shut down completely."

O’Hara noted the run between Newcastle and Sydney is common and such a practice would cause a massive impediment to the state’s freight movements.

"There is nothing in the regulations or policies that stops truckies from doing their job," he added.

"In fact, it’s the opposite, they have an exemption to perform this work because it’s essential.

"If every truckie is stopped and told to self-isolate, who comes from outside Sydney or who goes Newcastle/Sydney return and vice versa, then we are going to run out of truckies quickly. 

"Fortunately, NSW Police in the form Superintendant Tony Boyd have come back to me to confirm that this truckie does not need to self-isolate for 14 days and can continue working.

"Our member's business can keep working now without shutting down."

O’Hara says the state’s roads minister has been informed and NSW Police reminded of current regulations. 


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