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Fighting for our Owner-Driver members

Tippers protest
Photo courtesy of The Herald-Sun.

The Victorian Government yesterday announced that they expect to have 37 level crossings fully-removed, or removal works underway, by 2018.

They also called for Expressions of Interest for two new major packages of level crossing removals – with funds sourced from the $9 billion long-term lease of the Port of Melbourne – that will release 11 more crossings to market. 

The TWU (Vic/Tas Branch) is currently lobbying government for adequate rates and conditions to be paid to tip-truck drivers engaged by builders and plant hirers on Victorian Government projects, particularly level-crossing upgrades and road works.

The intention is to secure minimum safe rates of pay for owner-drivers and tipper-driver members. Let everyone in the industry know that WE ARE STRONGER TOGETHERand NOW IS THE TIME FOR THOSE TIPPER-DRIVERS WHO HAVE NOT JOINED THE TWU TO DO SO.

These members live a precarious life. They are engaged on a day-to-day basis with no security or certainty as to their work conditions and rate of pay and, we understand their daily rate of pay (based either on hours worked or tonnage) is sometimes undercut by Plant Hirers. 

Don't believe us? Ask the blokes at the coal face who are finding it hard to maintain trucks and meet operating costs. We are also concerned that there are members, subbies and new players to the industry out there buying brand new equipment - trucks, excavators, backhoes and trailers - based on the amount of government work available today, not what might be around in a few years. Some guys at the moment seem willing to cut a few corners – literally and metaphorically - to ensure they get a day’s pay. It is no way to grow a business.

The uncertainty listed above, along with the fact that we know tip-truck drivers are more likely to be involved in fatal accidents than other drivers - mainly due to fatigue, is why the Union recently called on the government to review and strengthen the Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Act 2005 (Vic).

As it currently sits, the Act contains no penalty provisions or prosecution rights against hirers for unconscionable conduct or bringing down rates to owner-drivers which are or have the potential to be unsafe. The Union has asked that a Code of Practice be developed for the engagement of owner-drivers in the excavation industry, covering areas such as no-start-jobs, minimum engagement and hourly-hire.

Join the campaign for safe rates and safer roads,

The two new level-crossing packages are the North-Western package and the Western package.

As part of the North-Western Package, Camp Road in Campbellfield and Buckley Street in Essendon will be fast-tracked. Work will start next year and is scheduled to finish by 2019.

The North-Western package also includes the removal of level crossings at Glenroy Road in Glenroy, Bell Street in Coburg, and Moreland Road in Brunswick.

Construction of the level crossing removal at Kororoit Creek Road in Williamstown North and the partial duplication of the Altona Loop will also begin next year, as part of the Western Package of crossing removals.

The Western package also includes the removal of crossings at Abbotts Road in Dandenong South, Aviation Road in Laverton, Ferguson Street in Williamstown, and Cherry and Werribee Streets in Werribee.

For more information about the level crossing removal project, fully funded by the lease of the Port, visit

Monash Freeway Upgrade


Works on the Monash Freeway Upgrade begin this week and the Victorian Labor Government have announced plans to mitigate congestion for the 200,000 motorists that use the freeway daily.

This week, motorists will see preliminary works on the Freeway’s shoulders to make the road smoother and allow extra space to reduce the number of traffic disruptions during construction.

Motorists will initially see some lane closures at night so workers can safely conduct works and not interrupt the peak periods.

Providing the extra space will allow the current number of lanes to remain open during peak times when more disruptive work begins.  Construction times will be staged to avoid major disruption to motorists.

In mid-late October concrete barriers will be installed down the centre median on both sides of the Freeway to ensure motorists and worker safety.

The majority of works to strengthen and widen bridges, build the extra lanes and install the final safety barriers will be done behind these concrete barriers.

The upgrade will see more than 30 kilometres of extra lanes while minimising the impact of construction on motorists.

The works will add a lane in each direction between EastLink and Clyde Road in Berwick, along with smart technology and ramp upgrades, improve traffic flow and increase safety for motorists.

Labour punt clears way

punt road 2

The Andrews Labor Government have claimed that travel times have improved on Punt Road "by an average of 40-per-cent" since permanent 24/7 clearways were created two weeks ago.

Previously, clearways only operated weekdays during peak hour on Punt Road - one of Melbourne's most critical north-south city bypasses.

The most significant improvements have been outside of peak periods and on weekends where the average time dropped by 40-per-cent since late August.

Roads Minister Luke Donellann said:

  • The early trend suggests when you’re journeying along Punt Road outside of peak periods, it’s going to take between 4 and 6 minutes almost every time.
  • On a Saturday afternoon, motorists would once spend around ten minutes travelling along Punt Road from Alexander Avenue to High Street.
  • The same Saturday afternoon journey has so far been reduced to five minutes.
  • At 3pm on schooldays, motorists could spend 13 minutes travelling along Punt Road, from High Street to Alexander Avenue. Last week, with 24/7 clearways in place, that same trip at that same time took an average of five minutes – from start to finish.


safe rates

The Government is failing to tackle the crisis in trucking, marked by suicides, bankruptcies, low pay, high workplace deaths and injuries and the employment of untrained and exploited migrant workers, drivers and small transport businesses are warning today.

The warning comes as the Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman released a report today at the request of Employment Minister Michaelia Cash backing the scrapping of a system that delivered payment to drivers within 30 days of work at safe minimum rates.

The Ombudsman’s report backs industry lobby group NatRoad’s moves to decrease payment for all truck drivers, through its opposition to minimum rates for owner drivers and through its demands for less wages and allowances for employee drivers in the award system.

“This is a despicable report which tries to link the horrendous problems in our industry such as suicide to an Order setting safe rates which was in place for just two weeks. The newsflash for Kate Carnell is that these suicides, bankruptcies and hardships have been going on for years and a safe rates system will tackle them by forcing wealthy clients to stop paying unsustainable rates and setting unrealistic deadlines. It comes as no surprise that her report criticises a system which was holding the major donors of her mates in the Liberal Party to account,” TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon.

Roy Ballantyne, an owner driver from SA, says he is flabbergasted at the report which tries to prove that minimum rates for drivers are a bad thing. “I got the rate increase during the two weeks the Order was in operation and it was my first rate rise in decades. I’m back to struggling on rates which often put my income below cost. What is Kate Carnell going to do about that?” he asked.

Cameron Dunn, managing director of FBT Transwest, said his business did not suffer during the two weeks the Order was in place. “My business lost no money during the two week Order and we still employ the same number of people. But what is happening is that our competitors are slashing their rates and that will have implication for safety on the roads, with trucks not maintained and drivers under pressure,” he said.

Sue Posnakidis, whose brother died in a truck crash in 2010, said she was disappointed that the ombudsman failed to acknowledge the safety implications of financial pressure in trucking. “My brother’s death was no accident. He was killed after a fatigued driver, driving a truck with faulty brakes, crashed into him. The ombudsman refuses to acknowledge what Government reports have clearly stated: that low rates play a crucial role in safety in trucking,” she said.

Over 2500 people have been killed in truck-related crashes over a decade.

Former Liberal Party Chief Minister of the ACT, Ms Carnell set up an inquiry into the safe rates system, politicising the process by holding public sessions in the days leading up to the Federal election in July.

Linfox Bulk Petroleum Proposed Variation Ballot

linfox bulk petroleum

TWU Members at Linfox Bulk Petroleum fought hard to secure an Agreement in 2014 that locked in good conditions and fair rate increases.

Linfox is trying to stop further rate increases from coming into force by making unfounded claims that their workers are already getting paid above industry standards.

TWU Members in all States are united in opposition to Linfox's proposal.

Please click on the below link for more information.

TWU Update Notice.


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