Safe Rates Facts

Safety Issues in the Road Transport Industry

The Australian road transport industry is in the midst of a safety crisis.

Statistics show that road transport workers are 12 times more likely to be killed while at work than any other worker.

This makes road transport Australia’s most dangerous industry.

The safety crisis affects all road users. In the past 10 years more than 2,500 people have been killed in truck crashes.

These crashes leave families devastates and communities traumatised. Our fight for Safe Rates will make Australian roads safer for everyone.

Read these reports for the statistics behind the road safety crisis:

The link between pay and safety

Over 20 years of evidence backs up the case for Safe Rates.

From judicial and coronial reports, academic studies, and government-commissioned inquiries, the evidence shows that low rates of pay for truck drivers causes unsafe practices in the road transport industry.

Read more about the link between rates of pay for truck drivers and road safety here:

It’s not just the amount truck drivers get paid that causes unsafe practices. Certain systems of payment, particularly payment by the kilometre or by the load, force truck drivers to take risks like driving while fatigued, skipping breaks, speeding and overloading.

To find out more about how particular methods of remuneration force unsafe practices, take a look at:

Why we need Safe Rates across whole supply chains

Economically powerful clients in the transport industry, such as major retailers, are continually demanding cheaper and ‘more efficient’ contracts from transport companies. This means that the same amount of work, and sometime more, is being done by transport workers for less money.

To meet client demands, large transport companies often tender for contracts at very low rates and then subcontract out work they cannot perform profitably to smaller companies. These smaller companies have to do the work for an even lower profit margin and are prone to sacrifice safety standards, conditions and fair wages to make a small profit.

Find out more about industry client’s power to set rates and conditions across the industry:

The key to solving the industry’s safety crisis is to look at the top of the transport supply chain, where conditions and rates are set, and focus on the role, power and influence of industry clients.

Read more about how industry clients are the root cause of the road transport safety crisis here:

How we are winning Safe Rates

Our campaign for Safe Rates has been going for over 20 years. By combining workplace organising, with community, political and industrial activities we have made some real steps toward Safe Rates. These including winning:

  • Strong national TWU agreements with major transport companies
  • Campaigning in our workplaces and communities

Securing safe and fair National Enterprise Agreements with major transport companies such a Toll, Linfox and TNT has meant that TWU members are leading the way toward winning Safe Rates for all drivers.

Making sure that standards and conditions in these agreements apply for all work done at these companies means that sub-contractors and outside hire have a fair go as well as employee drivers.

Safe Rates committees made up of workers and TWU delegates have also been established to make sure that outside hire workers get the rates, standards and conditions that they deserve.

The TWU Safe Rates campaign is going from strength to strength. From humble beginning over 20 years ago, watch this video for more information on how we’re taking Safe Rates from Organising to Action.

Still More To Do: Next Steps

To lock in Safe Rates we need to hold clients to account for safety throughout their supply chain as well as put in place workplace organising structures that allow workers to actively raise and enforce standards and conditions.

By working with major transport clients and tackling the problem across markets, we are campaigning to win a fairer, safer road transport industry for all.

Building organising structures across markets is essential to improve the standards, pay and conditions of every worker in a supply chain.

Through the Safe Rates campaign, the TWU has run several organising ‘blitzes’ around the country.

The blitz organising model involves traveling to a retail client’s distribution centres to survey incoming drivers, recruit members, identify activists and map the industry.

Building on the blitz model, developing ‘Safe Rates’ charters with major clients is crucial to guarantee access, information and ongoing client engagement.

The TWU is currently establishing these charters with specific clients in the retail supply chain.

Get the Fact Sheet

With the latest stats and information on the reality of the crisis in truck driving, this fact sheet gives you all the facts and figures you need to understand Safe Rates.


© 2016 Transport Workers' Union of Australia.
Authorised by Tony Sheldon, TWU National Secretary, 388-390 Sussex St, Sydney, NSW 2000 Australia.