There are many problems associated with the trucking industry, there always have been, but there is no point in just complaining about what is going on, we need to talk. We need, as an industry, to fully discuss issues among ourselves and then carry on talking, taking the message out to wider society and to decision makers with power.
One of the ongoing issues for the trucking industry has been the connection between the people actually doing the hard grind at the industry’s coal face and those who would like to represent the industry.
Another is getting the message out there, it’s OK making the call to change a regulation or behaviours, but the avenues for communication are limited. One part of the truck driving community is relatively well informed, but the vast majority of those people out on the road know very little about the issues being discussed and the effect of any decisions or initiatives might have on their working lives.
This fact was forcefully brought home to me around the time of the massive protests and disputes around the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, which brought a number of issues to the fore which still dog the industry.
RSRT was passed into law and flagged well in advance of its implementation. Those advocating for the rules were adamant about its effects and those opposing it went all out to find some way of stopping the imposition of an unworkable scheme.
Over the months leading up to the date it would begin the debate was quite fiery and a lot of mud was being slung. The discussions into the pros and cons were very circular and seemed to go nowhere.
Eventually, D-day arrived and the whole thing came as a massive shock to thousands of small trucking operators all over Australia. many suddenly found out what was going on when the operation they were sub-contracting for dropped them off the list, explaining the RSRT would make them too expensive.
The controversy around the RSRT went on for some time, but eventually it was dropped, much to everyone’s relief.
A few weeks later, I went to a meeting called by Kate Carnell, who had been tasked with getting feedback from small trucking businesses on the fall out from the RSRT debacle. She asked two questions of the operators in the room. When did they realise there was such a thing as the RSRT? How did they find out about it?
The answer to the first question shocked me, many had only discovered it a couple of weeks before its implementation. The answer to the second was just the icing on the cake, most picked up on it from gossip on Facebook.
So, in the middle of this communication and connected age this RSRT had appeared at the last minute, without warning as gossip on social media.
Clearly, nobody was talking, or listening, enough to get the message out there so that people in the trucking industry could be ready for an apocalypse. Ourselves in the trucking media hadn’t got it out to enough people and all of the industry associations tasked with representing these people had not got the message through to the grass roots. The large transport operations hadn’t informed all of the subbies on whom they depended that there was a change in the law and their likelihood was at risk.
This brings me back to my first point, we need to talk, and I mean everybody, we need to talk.