Transport Workers' Union

The TWU will join more than 50 trade unions representing road transport drivers around the world calling for governments to implement Safe Rates systems that would dramatically improve conditions for road transport drivers, and make roads safer for all road users.

The campaign, supported by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) which represents around 18.5 million workers in 154 countries, is part of an unprecedented co-ordinated demand on governments and industry stakeholders, with participating unions representing more than a million road transport drivers around the world.

It builds on past successes in South Korea, Brazil, Canada, and other countries, where Safe Rates systems have translated into better conditions for drivers and improved road safety and industry viability.

In Australia the TWU is urging Federal Parliament to support legislation recently tabled by Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke, which would make road transport safer, fairer and more sustainable.

This year 162 people have been killed in truck crashes on Australian roads, 40 of them truck drivers. A further 14 gig transport workers have been killed since 2017.

There were 347 transport insolvencies in Australia in the last financial year.

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said the growing crisis in road transport around the world had led to global unity.

“In Australia and around the world there is an urgent need for transport reform that can make our roads safer, not just for workers but for all road-users.”

“The fight for Safe Rates globally is gaining pace, with over 50 unions joining with one call for systems that can address razor-thin margins, commercial pressure from the top of the supply chain and unfair competition from the gig economy.”

“We’re calling not just on the Australian Federal Parliament but governments around the world to urgently back enforceable minimum standards that would ease the deadly pressures on drivers and operators.”

Stephen Cotton, General Secretary of the International Transport Workers’ Federation, said:

“In countries all around the world, the multinationals that depend on road transport workers are cutting corners and driving down wages in the pursuit of ever-higher profits. But these reckless and greedy practices aren’t just making life a misery for road transport drivers, they are causing carnage and death on our roads.”

“The Safe Rates campaign says that enough is enough: We know that when drivers are paid properly and have decent conditions, they are able to work without being forced to risk their own lives and the lives of everyone on the roads. Responsible employers know that fair and safe standards in road transport are not only good for workers, they make our whole industry safer and more sustainable.”

“We stand ready to work with governments, road transport employers and client companies to define these standards and ensure that they are upheld throughout supply chains and across the road transport industry.”


A 2021 survey of truck drivers in Australia revealed:

  • 75% of owner drivers have done a run that made no profit
  • 42% of owner drivers didn’t raise safety concerns for fear of losing a contract
  • 55% of owner drivers had delayed maintenance they couldn’t afford
  • 1 in 4 employee drivers had been pressured to drive past legal hours and skip rest breaks
  • 1 in 5 employee drivers had been pressured to speed to meet deadlines
  • 1 in 5 employee drivers had been pressured to falsify logbooks – a means of tracking fatigue that is required by Heavy Vehicle National Law

Safe Rates principles are included in the ‘International Labour Organisation Guidelines on the promotion of decent work an road safety in the transport sector‘.

See the full list of participating unions

/Public Release. View in full here.