It’s time to stop laying the blame for road deaths with truckies, and tackle the real cause of the safety crisis on our roads – the squeeze put on the industry by the likes of Coles, said TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon, following the union lodging its submission to the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal.

The TWU’s submission, calling for the tribunal to focus on the supermarket sub-sector of the retail sector in its first year, was supported in a number of other submissions, including transport industry expert Professor Michael Quinlan, and Frank Black, who is the Australian Trucking Association Owner Driver representative. However, a number of organisations representing the major retailers have tried to focus on individual drivers and absolve those at the top of the supply chain of their responsibility.

“Organisations such as the Australian Logistics Council – essentially the mouthpiece for big industry players such as Coles – are trying to change the parameters of the debate and re-hash the tried and tested arguments around Safe Rates,” Mr Sheldon said.

“Again, we are seeing a short-sighted and anti-truck driver agenda being promoted by some in the business community. These groups are shamefully trying to lay the blame for road deaths solely on the hard working truck drivers ofAustralia.

“Road and other laws already hold drivers responsible for their actions – they are subject to fatigue management, drug testing, speed limiters and cameras – the list goes on. But years of evidence has shown that to deal with the ongoing crisis causing on average 330 deaths every year, the pressures put on the industry through clients like Coles chasing the almighty buck must be lifted. The Coles CEO gets $15 million a year – truck drivers just want to get home alive.

According to the TWU, the initial results of the current Safe Rates survey again back up the need to tackle the pressures being put on drivers by Coles and other retailers.

“Preliminary results from the TWU Safe Rates Survey once again show that drivers carting products for big retailers like Coles, consistently feel more pressure to engage in unsafe practices like speeding, carrying overweight loads and exceeding safe driving hours in order to meet the unrealistic and unfair deadlines set by clients like Coles.

“This debate has been ongoing for many years. The Safe Rates legislation clearly acknowledged the need to address the responsibility of those at the top of the supply chain in order to ensure safer roads for everyone. Let’s move on from this debate and support the Tribunal in its very important work,” said Mr Sheldon.

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