Transport Workers' Union

The TWU is calling for urgent industry reform as the death toll from truck crashes on Australian roads reaches 51 for the year so far, 12 of those truck drivers.

The toll reached 50 following the devastating death of a three-month-old girl, whose mother and older sibling were also killed in a collision between a car and a cement truck in Sydney’s south-west.

Trucking is Australia’s deadliest industry, with pressures of underpayments, fatigue, speeding, and overloaded trucks linked to the low-cost contracts demanded by wealthy retailers, manufacturers, and oil companies at the top of the supply chain.

The distressing figure comes as Australia’s largest cold chain operator, Scott’s Refrigerated, ceases operations amid growing pressure from “uncommercial customer arrangements.”

Scott’s is only the latest casualty of the supply chain crisis driven by wealthy retailers and other clients, with razor-thin margins fuelling deadly pressure for drivers and operators to delay maintenance, speed, and drive fatigued to make ends meet.

The TWU recently served a claim on 40 top retailers, food and beverage manufacturers and agricultural companies demanding they sign up to six principles to make their supply chains safer, fairer and more sustainable.

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said urgent intervention from wealthy clients and Federal Parliament was the only way to stop the death spiral.

“It’s only the middle of March and we’ve already seen 50 families torn apart by devastating crashes this year.”

“Cannibalistic competition driven by wealthy clients is only going to pile on the pressure for drivers and operators to drive fatigued, skip vital maintenance and speed. The deaths aren’t going to stop until those wealthy clients take responsibility for safety, fairness and sustainability all the way through their supply chains.”

“We urge Federal Parliament to back in reform that would set minimum standards in the trucking industry, but that reform can start today with clients stepping up and committing to bring up standards in their supply chains.”

Since the Federal LNP Government tore down the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal in 2016, which was dedicated to investigating safety and regulating payment arrangements to reduce financial pressures on truck drivers, 286 truck drivers have been killed on the job.

Click here for the TWU’s six-point claim and list of 40 clients.

/Public Release. View in full here.