Events in the next week may undo a lot of the good work done by the trucking industry, and the planned disruption may see truckies going from hero to zero in just a matter of days.
Ever since the pandemic began the trucking industry has dug deep and kept the supermarket shelves pretty full, despite the antics of the crazy panic buying hoarders of this nation. The last 18 months have seen the truck drivers and, by association the trucking industry as a whole, become one of those pillars of society that keep things going, even in the darkest days of long drawn out lockdowns.
However, a couple of planned disruptive actions may unravel the whole ‘essential workers’ thing, if they get the kind of support the organisers are hoping to create, or discussions break down.
On Friday, there is the threat of a strike by the Transport Workers Union at Toll. A number of issues are in play and the parties will be meeting most of today, to try and avoid any stoppage. However, you never now whether brinkmanship by either party may go just one step too far and the strike takes place.
If we dodge that bullet, the next cloud on the horizon is a much more amorphous possibility of random stoppages and blockades by a number of truck drivers, supposedly planned to take place next Tuesday, August 31.
This is a lot more difficult to assess for the casual observer. There is a lot of noise on social media about it all kicking off on Tuesday morning, but, equally there is a lot of kick-back from other drivers roundly criticising those trying stir up trouble as part of another agenda, e.g. antivaxxers, anti-lockdown freedom campaigners etc. etc.
The fact of the matter is, we don’t know what is likely to happen. If either the TWU or Toll choose to take a hard line then a 24 hour stoppage may cause disruption throughout the supply chain for some major parts of the economy.
This may also create some negative stories and imagery around the trucking industry. However, the situation is not going to get violent or create very bad soundbites in the TV headlines.
The situation next week is a lot more unpredictable. There is a chance there is just a lot of steam being let off in a number of Facebook groups, but there may be enough people willing to act together to create some trouble on the highway. If it goes badly then the soundbites are going to be more damaging for the industry as a whole.
Of course, there is a worst case and best case scenario here and, as far as I can tell, the disastrous outcome does not look very likely to happen. If the negotiations go well and a semblance of reality returns to the Facebook posters, then the improved image of the trucking industry may remain intact and we won’t go from hero to zero, for now.