Tunnel Incident shows need for industry training, investigation into 457 Visas

The Transport Workers' Union has called for industry-wide training for truck drivers following an incident in the M5 tunnel in Sydney today which caused major traffic chaos. 

The TWU also called on Immigration Minister to investigate abuse of the 457 visa system whereby truck drivers are being brought into Australia on 457 visa, in violation of visa rules.

TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon said the incident in the M5 tunnel caused major disruption to an important thoroughfare in Sydney and economic loss to those affected by it. He said industry-wide training should be carried out under the auspices of a national auditing, education and industrial rights.

“This fund would be important in holding companies to account over safety and standards. At the moment it is the rest of the community which is bearing the brunt of the loss of loved ones and the economic cost of truck crashes and chronic delays as we have seen today,” Sheldon said.

The fund would be paid into by all employers along the supply chain in sectors with high rates of fatalities. It would ensure companies are meeting safety obligations and that those at the top of supply chains are being held to account for work carried out for them. The fund would also educate employers on their obligations while training drivers on safety and their rights at work.

The TWU is also concerned at claims that the driver of the truck today was on a 457 visa. Truck driving is not included in the list of categories for 457 skilled visa holders and Federal Immigration Minister must urgently establish if visas are being obtained for truck drivers.

“I call on the Federal Government to investigate claims that the truck was being driven by a 457 visa holder. This is a very serious issue with huge implication for public safety, given the dangerous nature of trucking,” said Sheldon.

Data from the Fair work Ombudsman last year showed one in five migrant workers on 457 visas are not working in the job they are brought in to do or are not being paid the correct salary.

Around 330 people are killed each year nationally in truck-related crashes. This is the reason trucking is Australia’s deadliest profession, with drivers 15 times more likely to die than any other profession.

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