Where’s our industry champion?

In News3 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineMarch 4, 2021

Story and photo courtesy of Big Rigs Australia.

Former truckie-turned Senator Glenn Sterle has delivered some scathing “home truths” about truckies‘ pay rates to his fellow Senators in Canberra.

Speaking in a lively session last week on employment, Sterle used the trucking industry to argue his point that instead of a plan for secure jobs for Australians, the Morrison government is trying to make it easier for employers to cut workers‘ pay and conditions.

Sterle told the Senate that he believes most truckies are being woefully short-changed by the kilometre payment system.

“The majority of employers in the road transport industry, predominantly in the interstate line haul sector, are absolutely ripping off their drivers,” said the WA Labor Senator.

“The employers say it‘s 880km between Melbourne and Sydney, so they‘ll pay for 880km, not taking into account that drivers have probably spent five or six hours running around Melbourne or Sydney doing the loading.

“Someone‘s got to actually wash the bucket of nuts and bolts; someone‘s got to put the fuel in it. They don‘t pay for that. That‘s all part of the kilometre rate. The drivers just do that for love!

“If you have to change a tyre halfway between Melbourne and Sydney, or Sydney and Brisbane, or Adelaide and wherever—you don‘t get paid for changing the tyres. That‘s all part of your kilometre rate. So don‘t expect to get paid for all the add-ons. This goes on day in, day out in this nation.

“I challenge anyone to tell me that I am wrong. I know I‘m not wrong. I know because the drivers tell me this.”

To support his case, Sterle offered up a number of examples of driver rorts he‘d submitted to the Fair Work Ombudsman.

“One company had AU$132,000 in underpayments, another had a baby amount of AU$35,000, another had AU$60,200 and another had AU$251,000,” he said.

“How do you actually rip off your truck drivers to the tune of AU$251,000?

Sterle said it‘s clear to him that the Morrison government has no idea of the pressures that truckies are facing out on the road every day.

“You don‘t even put money into training for the transport industry,” he said to the Liberal bench.

“This is one industry that cannot attract kids. When you hear all the horror stories about how they‘re treated, the lack of toilets and the poor facilities, no wonder no-one wants to get into it.”