Truckies and paramedics protest for safer working conditions
TRANSPORT Workers Union activists, trucks drivers and Health Services Union paramedics protested in Brelsford Park in Coffs Harbour to raise awareness about fatigue problems as a result of unfair working conditions.
The TWU activists have held a series of protests along the north coast, such as Ballina and Grafton, en route to Sydney for their annual NSW and ACT conference on August 27.
The main aim of the protests is to put pressure on supermarket giant Coles to provide safer working conditions for truck drivers such as appropriate levels of fatigue mitigation.
The Safe Rates Survey 2012 results revealed 73% truckies working in the Coles Supply Chain believe pressure from big retail clients, like Coles, is a major cause of unsafe practices in the industry.
The protest group stormed Coles on the cnr of Earl St and Harbour Dr in Coffs Harbour and handed out information fliers to customers and were later asked to leave.
TWU Queensland coordinator, Craig Williams said he was pleased with the interest showed by the public.
"People don't realise that Coles is one of the biggest retailers in Australia that control a lot of truck movements and by driving the rates down they affect a lot of people that are drivers and allot of safety," he said.
In a statement, Coles said it is disappointing that the TWU continues to make a number of deliberately misleading statements about the very important matter of road safety in Australia.
The statement said also explained Coles does not employ any truck drivers. It contracts the services of market-leading logistics providers such as Toll and Linfox. Like Coles, these companies put enormous effort into safety measures for their employees and employee safety is their priority.
Health Services Union Heath and Safety representative, Bruce Waters, said paramedics face similar issues to truck drivers and aligned with the TWU to promote safer conditions in both industries.
"As paramedics, we share similar concerns with regard to the long hours that we work but moreover to the fact that we don't get access to the fatigue mitigation breaks that we should during those shifts," Mr Waters said.
"We are at the end of the day human too, and we reach breaking point ... often, we are expected to do extraordinary and unreasonable things."
Mr Waters hopes that the protest will generate public awareness about the need for more paramedics on our roads.
"We need to put a lot more paramedics on the road, I think that's the key reason why we don't have access to the fatigue breaks because the work load is simply too great for the amount of paramedics that we have," he said.