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Aussie Truckers Threaten Blockade

July 12, 2000

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Major Australian highways could be in trouble this weekend with the Truck Owner-Drivers Association threatening a national blockade.

The possible blockade is in response to cuts of up to 11 percent in owner-driver freight rates since the introduction of the GST, or Goods and Services Tax, and continuing discussions over a voluntary code of conduct for the industry.
Lyn Bennetts, association secretary, told the Australian Associated Press that there is growing support among the nation's 10,000 owner-drivers for the blockade. She said the cut in freight rates, the voluntary nature of the proposed code and rising fuel prices were all contributing factors to the disillusion among owner-operators. "People will have to start taking notice of what we're saying, what's happening in the industry, what's happening to our families, if there is a blockade," Bennetts said. "There has been support for this for a few weeks but we've held back to see if there would be any change, but there hasn't been."
Owner-drivers, through work with the Transport Workers Union, have been demanding better conditions in the year-long campaign, which has included some isolated blockades. The government has put $60,000 towards developing a voluntary code of conduct to address owner-driver concerns about dangerous conditions being forced upon them.
Bennetts said her members believed a code of conduct had to be mandatory, while freight rates had to climb more than the 12 percent now being offered by some companies.

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