Truck drivers across the country have taken part in a convoy as they demand better conditions and call for industry reform.
Drivers in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and other major and regional cities gathered on Saturday to show their solidarity.
The Transport Worker’s Union called for industry reform, citing the collapse of several trucking and transport companies, and gig economy contracts which they say place undue pressure on drivers.
The union also highlighted a spate of driver deaths in recent months.
The TWU described the protest as a “unity ticket” involving employers, industry groups, as well as drivers.
TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said there was “unchecked commercial pressure” from big retailers that was putting trucking companies out of business.
“Scots Transport was a massive company (with) 500 trucks in the middle of retail supply chains but (it) couldn’t keep its head above water,” Mr Kaine told the ABC on Saturday.
He also said there was a need for standardised conditions for gig workers, who he called the “heroes” of the pandemic.
“They are being exploited and we need to put standards in place so that they are safe, but so that the industry has fair competition and that is really what today is about,” he said.
Mr Kaine said the industry was at “breaking point” after a number of driver deaths.
“People are being slaughtered on our roads under the deadly commercial pressures that lead to unrealistic deadlines, delayed vehicle maintenance, and staying on the road too long,” Mr Kaine said.
He pointed to a crucial report – entitled Without Trucks, Australia Stops – which was tabled in the Senate two years ago after a two-year inquiry.
The TWU national secretary accused the Morrison government of sitting on the report and urged Anthony Albanese to usher in the legislation, having foreshadowed it would soon be introduced.
“Today really is a unity ticket to say to the federal parliament, ‘when that legislation comes before you, sure, do your job reviewing the legislation, but do it quickly, pass this legislation urgently so we can save lives and make this industry more sustainable’,” he said.