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Issue #1787      July 26, 2017

Exploitation Updates

The Transport Workers’ Union is calling for an investigation into the transport industry after six people were killed in truck crashes across NSW in 24 hours last week. Police reported three separate crashes involving trucks: two people were killed north of Gloucester, two people were killed near Sutton Forest and two people were killed at Bendemeer.

“Our thoughts are with the family and friends of those killed in the last 24 hours in these crashes which are still under investigation. The trucking community knows all too well of the devastating effect of horrific crashes like these,” said TWU national assistant secretary Michael Kaine.

“Deaths from truck crashes have increased dramatically in the past year, since the federal government abolished the one independent tribunal which was investigating safety in trucking. The government knew this would happen since its own report showed the tribunal was cutting truck crash fatalities by 28 percent. We are demanding action and that the pressures on transport operators and drivers be looked at with a view to making our industry safer,” he added.

The union says that the margins are tight for transport operators and this is resulting in drivers forced to speed, drive long hours and skip mandatory rest breaks. Thus this is happening because wealthy retailers and manufacturers at the top are constantly cutting their transport contracts. The government is failing to hold these wealthy clients to account and the rest of the community is suffering because of it.

Between January and March this year, deaths from articulated trucks increased by 7.2% and deaths from heavy rigid vehicles increased by 4.1%, compared with last year, according to the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics. Meanwhile, 40% of all workplace deaths this year involved transport workers, according to Safe Work Australia. In the 10 years to 2014, over 2,500 people were killed in truck crashes.

The latest announcement – which Westpac bank is calling an amalgamation – is to close one branch in Western Australia and one in Victoria. The Finance Sector Union says that once again Westpac has blamed the decline in over-the-counter transactions and an increase in customers accessing mobile and digital banking options as factors in their decision to close these latest branches. The bank has provided the same reason for each of the closures, and in each case has told the FSU: “We’ve seen ‘over-the-counter’ transactions steadily decline as a significant number of our customers increasingly use digital banking channels including mobile banking, and internet banking”.

What Westpac are not saying is for a number of years staff working in their branches have been expected to push customers to use mobile and digital banking options as a performance target that staff are measured against.

Next article – Culture & Life – The State of Food and Agriculture

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