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TWU survey highlights poor freight industry vaccine uptake

Roster irregularity and financial disincentive cited by respondents


One in two transport workers in essential industries like freight and distribution have not been vaccinated against Covid-19, according to a Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) survey.

The survey of more than 1,200 truck drivers, bus drivers, couriers, distribution workers and rideshare drivers found that only 14% of respondents were fully vaccinated, while only 32% had received one jab and over half of respondents had not received their first vaccination, which “shows the failures in Australia’s pandemic response”, the TWU charged.

Only 2% were assisted by their employer to get their vaccination, the union added, with the number worse in freight as almost two thirds of truck driver respondents were unvaccinated, despite half working in Covid hot spots.

Other insights included:

  • Around one third identified limited availability or appointment times as key barriers, while many noted it was too difficult to book appointments in advance due to irregular work patters and unknown rosters.
  • Confusing information and changing government health advice were other common reasons for being unvaccinated.
  • Over three quarters of surveyed workers do not feel safe working in Covid hotspots because of the risk of contracting the virus and infecting their families, while 57% fear losing pay if forced to self-isolate.
  • 90% of truckies have not been offered paid vaccination leave by their employers, making organising a vaccination appointment even more difficult.
  • Fatigue is the leading cause of truck crash deaths, yet over half of interstate truck drivers reported difficulties finding open truck stops to rest, get a hot meal or have a shower.
  • Around one third reported being told to self-isolate in their truck, while almost half said they’ve had to spend hours queueing for covid tests.
  • Confusing border pass information, testing requirements and exposure sites at depots have also meant many transport workers have lost out on work.

TWU’s calls for testing at inspection stations, here

“The results of this survey show in black and white the failures in Australia’s vaccination response,” TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said.

“Without transport workers, the pandemic response would grind to a halt, but many are unvaccinated because the Federal Government failed to prioritise them, or ensure adequate support and leave provisions so workers can get vaccinated without losing pay.

“We’re constantly reminded the virus doesn’t move on its own, but transport workers are perhaps at the greatest risk of contracting and transmitting the virus.”

The union, alongside other transport proponents, have previously called for priority vaccinations for drivers and other freight workers on the frontline.

“These workers should have been prioritised and support to get vaccinated from day one of the rollout,” Kaine said.

“Transport workers are severely under the pump.

“They have met unprecedented demand over the last 18 months because they understand our communities rely on them.”

“No worker should have to choose between putting food on the table and getting vaccinated.

“If we’re going to beat this virus, we need a national plan to prioritise essential transport workers and provide paid vaccination leave.”


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