Australia’s Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal ruled on 18 December that drivers should be paid for waiting at depots, loading and unloading and for the time it takes to clean, inspect and service their trucks and trailers.
Australian driver Frank Black welcomed the decision: “Drivers need to know they can feed their family and pay bills. They need to know they don’t have to cut corners on safety. This is a big step to achieving that.”
Over 300 people die each year in truck-related crashed in Australia. Low cost contracts from wealthy retailers and manufacturers put pressure on drivers to cut corners by not maintaining their vehicles and skip rest periods, speed and drive for longer than is allowed to meet unrealistic deadlines.
Those fighting for safe rates globally include drivers for food company Pulmuone in Korea, who have been on strike since September and whose union representatives have been imprisoned. Pressure on drivers in Korea is intense with around 1,200 dying each year in truck-related crashes. Overloading of trucks causes 38 percent of truck related crashes.
ITF road transport workers’ section chair and Australian Transport Workers’ Union national secretary Tony Sheldon said the ruling is a victory in the fight to end carnage on Australia’s roads. He added that is shows what can be achieved by fighting through a trade union for safer jobs.
Employers, governments and employee groups at the UN body, the International Labour Organization, in October backed a plan based on the Australian safe rates model to tackle the root causes of the high global death toll in trucking.
Click here for more on the ITF campaign for Safe Rates.