The Transport Workers’ Union will today tell the Senate Inquiry hearing on the Ensuring Integrity Bill that the transport industry is the deadliest in Australia, and workers need legislation to back them up when their safety and the safety of the public is at risk.
TWU National Assistant Secretary Nick McIntosh will tell the Education and Employment Legislation Committee at Mascot Ballroom in Sydney that the transport industry is marked by high instances of death, injury, wage theft, non-payment of superannuation, low pay and lack of minimum standards.
The proposed Ensuring Integrity Bill, which would make it more difficult for workers to take action, would award wealthy companies the right to make profits at the expense of safety.
“The transport industry is crying out for regulation to prevent wealthy companies at the top of supply chains from putting a deadly squeeze on transport, but this Bill aims to strip workers of the few legislative powers they have to fight back. When profit is prioritised over safety, the worst often happens. Whether a fatal truck crash, a violent attack on a bus driver and their passengers, or an armed robbery of a cash-in-transit van, these terrifying ordeals threaten both workers just trying to do their job and the public who may be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Rather than fighting off a fresh attack on unions, workers should be given the protections they need to do their jobs safely,” said TWU National Assistant Secretary Nick McIntosh.
Also appearing at the hearing is cash-in-transit driver Charles McKay who will bravely remind the Committee of incidents that required him and his workmates to take unprotected action after workers had been killed.
One example is delivery guard Gary Allibon, who was shot dead in 2010 during a robbery at an ATM on Sussex Street in Sydney. Work stoppage meetings took place following these incidents to flag safety concerns and to allow workers, employers and police to co-ordinate responses.
“When a worker is tragically killed in our line of work, it is not just a one-off case of terrible luck. Armed robberies are calculated attacks that purposefully threaten our lives. If a worker is killed, the perpetrators are on the loose, and we do not feel that the company is doing enough to protect us, how can we be denied the human right to remove ourselves from that danger? Doing so should never put us at risk of losing our job or our representative body at risk of being deregistered,” McKay said.
Supermarket giant Aldi began an unprecedented Federal Court case in 2017 against the TWU after it failed to get an injunction stopping the union from speaking out about truck driver rates and safety in its supply chain. The case demonstrates that companies are already willing to take lengthy and costly cases to test laws in order to silence workers and trade unions.
Pippa Hatton 0418 982 257
1. A 2015 Safe Work Australia study found that:
– 31% of transport employers say workers ignore safety rules to get the job done
– 20% of transport employers accept dangerous behaviour, compared to less than 2% in other industries.
– 20% of transport employers break safety rules to meet deadlines – this compares with just 6% of employers in other industries.
2. A Department of Infrastructure report in 2016 noted that: “Heavy trucks are disproportionately involved in casualty crashes: approximately 16 per cent of road crash fatalities and 4 per cent of injuries involve these vehicles.” ABS data shows that trucks represent just 3.6% of registered motor vehicles.
3. In the five years to June 2019, 919 people died in truck crashes, according to the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics. Safe Work Australia shows that out of the 111 people killed at work so far this year, 37 were transport workers, by far the highest for any profession.
4. A survey of bus drivers by the Queensland branch of the TWU found that:
– 81.2% of drivers have been threatened with physical harm, 54.1% reporting that this happens regularly
– 21.2% have been physically attacked at the wheel
– 71.8% have had objects thrown at their bus such as rocks, bottles, metal poles
– 27% have been spat on
5. There are an average of 8 cash-in-transit robberies or attempted robberies around Australia each year, with 80% occurring when vehicles have pulled over to restock ATM machines or commercial premises. Some years have seen major spikes in robberies: in 2007 there were 18 incidents and 11 incidents in 2008.