Foreign truck drivers downright dangerous
By Alex Easton
TRENT DAFONSECA can't understand why anyone would consider shipping in overseas truckies to work in Australia when there are perfectly capable drivers already here and looking for work.
Like himself, for example.
Mr Dafonseca said he had spent about three months looking for a new job in the industry, but had so far failed to find a position; something he blames at least partly on his insistence on safe working conditions and adherence to the law.
Any move to extend the controversial 457 Working Visa to include the transport industry would make it even harder for Mr Dafonseca and others like him to secure a job.
More importantly, Mr Dafonseca, of Lismore, said the move would compromise the safety of everyone on the road.
People whose jobs and ability to even stay in Australia was dependent on the sponsorship of an employer would be less able to resist pressure to bend rules to meet unrealistic deadlines.
A Federal report on the 457 Visa system is expected to recommend rejecting a request from the transport industry that the system be expanded to include truck drivers.
However, the Transport Workers' Union remains so concerned it will tonight hold a public forum on the issue at the Lismore City Hall.
The union has been campaigning against the extension of the visas, which senior official Mark Crosdale described as 'downright dangerous'.
"Already at least three workers brought over to Australia on the 457 Visa have been killed," Mr Crosdale said. "If the same easily-exploitable foreign labour was brought over here to drive trucks, there would be disastrous consequences.
"You simply can't bring over cheap workers to drive 50-tonne trucks and not expect carnage. Vulnerable drivers are dangerous drivers."
Despite a good work record, Mr Dafonseca concedes his insistence on following procedure may have upset some employers.
"Negotiating contracts or wages, that's fine; but I can't work with a truck that's leaking oil or has bald front tyres," Mr Dafonseca said.
"I'll put in a complaint and if nothing's done, then I'll leave. But I'll also take it further with WorkCover or the RTA.
"I've done that before, because I don't want the next guy to have to deal with it either.
"I don't want to injure anyone on the road. I don't want to break any laws just by doing a job."
After a fruitless three months looking for work, Mr Dafonseca said he was now planning to take up a lucrative job driving trucks at a mine.
Tonight's community forum on the plan to extend 457 Visas to include truckies will be held at the Fountain Room, Lismore City Hall, Bounty Street, from 6pm.