Despite Government recognition of transport and logistics companies as essential services during the Covid-19 situation, Shadow Minister for Road Safety, Glenn Sterle, calls for improved working conditions for Australia's truck drivers.
Sterle reveived reports this week from transport associations and drivers about situations that Australia's truck drivers are facing at roadhouses across the country.
He claims at some sites shower facilities are being closed, toilet facilities are being denied, drivers are being told they cannot access meals onsite in air-coniditioned areas.
“Drivers are instead being forced to eat outside in the heat and amongst flies,” said Sterle.
“For some drivers, this is the only guaranteed rest break that they can take while driving long haul due to take away options only being available now. Healthy food options for drivers are limited.
“Due to the size of heavy rigid vehicles, drivers are prevented from accessing some fast food retailers all together.
“At some roadhouses, food sections are being closed completely; drivers are being prevented from using the rest/lounge areas while on break.”
The challenges that Sterle has raised impact drivers' ability to manage fatigue.
“During this pandemic, our truckies are supplying our shops and making sure that valuable freight is getting to where it needs to go on a daily basis, all while being away from their loved ones,” said Sterle. “They deserve much better than this.”
Sterle, as a former owner driver running between Perth and Darwin, said being a truck driver is a hard and extremely stressful job.
“I understand better than anyone in the Parliament the pressures our truckies face every day,” he said. “Fatigue management, tight delivery deadlines and the fear of not being paid in an adequate time frame to name a few. Drivers do not need the added fear of not knowing when they are going to be able to have a shower, use a toilet or have a feed during the Covid-19 crisis.”
Minister for Transport, Michael McCormack recently described Australia's truck drivers as the “heartbreat of the nation”.
“I agree with him,” said Sterle. “But if Mr McCormack was serious, he would immediately announce measures that would address the situations that our truckies are facing at roadhouses across Australia at the moment so that they can continue to carry our country as they have always done and as they always will continue to do.”