Some Australian truckers on strike; threats made against those who aren’t

| Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A relatively small group of long-haul truckers in southern Australia has begun a planned two-week strike, demanding better pay, fuel surcharges and an end to tough new fines aimed at reducing driver fatigue.

The Australian Associated Press reported that two groups from the state of Queensland – the Australian Long Distance Owners and Drivers Association and the National Road Transport Forum – are behind the strike.

The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper reported that Lyn Bennetts, president of the long-distance group, sent a letter warning that truck drivers could face violent repercussions if they defied the call to strike.

“Some drivers are going to be targeted if they are caught driving during the shutdown, this is an unfortunate part of any dispute; innocent people do get hurt,” she wrote in the letter, which was made available to the media by the Transportation Workers Union.

“Responsibility will not be held by ALDODA or any of the shutdown organizers for the safety of any driver who continues to drive while the shutdown is on. ... so to ensure your own safety please don’t keep driving,” the letter stated.

The Transportation Workers Union is Australia’s largest truckers union, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Australian news agencies reported on Tuesday, July 29, that about 40 truckers took part in a slow-moving convoy in Brisbane. Media reported that truckers also plan to blockade oil refineries with picket lines.

Port Kembla-based Brailey’s Transport owner Peter Brailey told the Illawarra Mercury that the shutdown was impractical and could potentially harm truckers’ cause.

“Everyone agrees with the sentiment and the reasons behind doing it, but it hasn’t been well organized and the action isn’t supported throughout the industry,” Brailey told his hometown newspaper.

“We’ve all got customer commitments and the customers can’t put up with us having two weeks off.”

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