Disgruntled truck drivers say they will stop work on infrastructure projects including the West Gate Tunnel and level-crossing removals because of crippling diesel fuel prices.
Hundreds of tip-truck drivers are paid $1.40 a litre under the state government cost model, but the cost of diesel has soared to more than $2 in the past week.
A proposed stoppage next Monday would mean dirt, rock and contaminated soil would not be transported from construction sites.
Victorian Tippers United secretary Luke McCrone said the model meant it was costing drivers to go to work, and gave the government a week to solve the crisis.
“Unlike the rest of the transport industry which is paid a fuel levy, tipper owner-drivers who are burning up to 350 litres a day are expected to absorb this cost, ” Mr McCrone said.
“Once fuel, maintenance and repayments are factored in, owner-drivers are left with as little as $100 per day.
“It is difficult to understand how a Labor government could condemn workers to building government infrastructure with poverty wages.”
The rates paid to drivers are set by the Transport Industry Council, which the union wants to meet this week to resolve the dispute.
Mr McCrone said unless the government introduced a diesel levy or revised its cost model, at least 300 union members would assemble at points around Melbourne next Monday before driving in convoys to parliament.
“VTU members have resolved to give the Andrews government one week to meet to resolve this urgent issue,” he said.
“If they don’t, tipper owner-drivers will stop work from next Monday.
“We expect that a prolonged stoppage will cause significant disruptions on major infrastructure projects across Melbourne … some of these projects may grind to a halt.”
The Herald Sun revealed in October delays on the crisis-plagued West Gate Tunnel project were expected to cost Transurban more than $450m in lost tolls.
Tunnelling stopped in 2019 over concerns about contaminated soil at the site.
Diesel was selling for as much as $2.45 a litre at Melbourne outlets on Sunday, according to fuel price tracking data from the RACV.
The average price for diesel in the metropolitan area was $2.22.
Unleaded petrol was selling for $2.11.8 a litre in Melbourne while premium unleaded 98 fuel was costing motorists an average $2.34 but spiking to $2.45.9.
The government and Industrial Relations Victoria were contacted for comment.
Extracted in full from: Diesel price: Truckies threaten stop-work over fuel costs | The Courier Mail