The latest statistics from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) have underlined the Transport Workers’ Union’s claims that truck drivers are overly represented in road statistics and that the statistics are getting worse.
BITRE’s latest report found that during the 12 months to the end of March 2017, 217 people died from 196 fatal crashes involving heavy trucks or buses. These included:
- 118 deaths from 104 crashes involving articulated trucks, 87 deaths from 77 crashes involving heavy rigid trucks and 25 deaths from 24 crashes involving buses.
- Fatal crashes involving articulated trucks: increased by 7.2 per cent compared with the corresponding period one year earlier and increased by an average of 0.9 per cent per year over the three years to March 2017.
- Fatal crashes involving heavy rigid trucks: increased by 4.1 per cent compared with the corresponding period one year earlier and increased by an average of 2.5 per cent per year over the three years to March 2017.
Aldi joins Coles in the bad books
While the TWU has been particularly concerned with Coles’ management of its truck deliveries, the latest action was directed at Aldi in Fremantle, WA.
Truck drivers and TWU supporters angry at retailer Aldi over a spike in deaths from truck crashes have blocked a road in South Fremantle.
Traffic was halted on Hampton Road as over 150 protesters demanded that Aldi end the financial squeeze on transport companies and truck drivers, which the TWU says is leading to deaths on the roads.
This year, almost 40% of all workplace deaths involved transport workers, with 22 transport worker deaths out of a total of 57 workplace deaths. Last year, over one in three workplace deaths involved transport workers. Previously around one in four workplace deaths involved transport workers.
Other road users are caught up in the carnage with an increase in overall truck crash deaths.
“Aldi needs to take responsibility for what is happening in its supply chain. Cutting transport costs and underpaying truck drivers has massive consequences on our roads. This financial pressure leads to trucks not being maintained and drivers forced to speed, drive long hours and skip mandatory rest breaks. This squeeze has got to stop, for the sake of the entire community,” said TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon.
“The Federal Government is also to blame for this problem. Last year it tore down an independent tribunal that was holding wealthy clients like Aldi to account for the financial squeeze on transport that kills and injures people. This increase in deaths should not come as any surprise to the Government. Its own report showed the tribunal’s orders would cut truck crashes by 28%*. Transport workers are paying with their lives for this Government’s mismanagement,” said Mr Sheldon.
The TWU says Aldi last year attempted to pay truck drivers less by misclassifying them in an enterprise agreement, which the federal court struck down.