We must do better for our drivers

Mike Millian

Thank you driver, we all need to work together!

I want to start off by saying I hope everyone is healthy in these trying and unprecedented times, both physically and mentally.

Times like this, that none of us have ever seen before, are hard on everyone, and the uncertainty in our day-to-day lives makes it difficult.

We all need to lean on each other as a society, to do what is best not only for ourselves, but more importantly, for those around us who may be more vulnerable than we are.

Reach out, make a call to check in on someone, see if they are OK, and provide what help you can, within the self-isolation guidelines that we all must follow.

I also want to take a minute to thank all the frontline essential workers who are doing what they can to keep us all healthy and to provide the services and supplies we need.

All the healthcare workers, pharmacists, the workers at all the grocery and retail stores that are staying open and ensuring shelves are stocked, clean and ready for our needs. These people, and many more, are sacrificing their time selflessly for our benefit.

One I have yet to mention, is the professional truck driver. Never has the value and need of drivers to the greater good of our country been more evident than it is now.

In almost every press conference held by political leaders and officials across Canada and the U.S., truck drivers are being thanked for the service they provide.

We in the industry have always known how critical and essential our truck drivers were, and now it seems the rest of the world is fully aware as well!

In these critical times, we are asking our professional drivers to continue to work and provide us with the essential services, but are we returning the favor and ensuring our drivers are provided the essential services to protect their own well-being?

In many cases, drivers are being refused access to washroom facilities while they are out on the road. The PMTC has done our best, in collaboration with other industry associations and government, to ensure we keep, or in some cases, reopen rest areas to ensure drivers have access.

We have had some success imploring truck stops to stay open and provide washroom and showers to drivers. The biggest concern now is having shippers/receivers provide them with access to a washroom while delivering or picking up loads. In many cases they are not even providing a Porta Potty.

We are asking our drivers to stay out and move our essential products around to keep us safe, however, we are not even providing them with the basic necessities they require to keep themselves safe and healthy.

Our members are reporting that many of their drivers, when returning from their runs, are throwing their hands up, going home and refusing to come back to work until they can be guaranteed of these rights.

If this continues, the problem will only get worse for all of us.

We simply must do better. Shippers, receivers and manufacturers play a vital role in our needs today as well, as we need you to produce the food, medicines etc. that we all need, and then the driver is needed to get it there.

If we can work together to get the product to the people it needs to get to, why can’t we work together to ensure we look after each other’s basic human rights and needs?

I know fear of contracting Covid-19 plays a big role in access not being provided, and we see the stories on the news every day. But there are ways we can ensure drivers are provided access, and protect the health and safety of all of us at the same time.

By denying access, the driver has no chance. One of our members reported 10 drivers in 2 days that returned from their runs and went home, refusing to go back out until proper access was guaranteed. We need to work together to make this stop.

I want to end on a positive note, however. On the other side, we have heard stories of drivers arriving at pickup and delivery locations and being provided with free food, coffee, and being welcomed right into their facilities, so there are many people out there who are simply amazing and on the other end of the spectrum.

In fact, I believe the majority of people and businesses understand the drivers’ needs and do what they can.

For those of you who don’t, you are hurting us all, and most importantly, hurting the one who is helping you!

 

Mike Millian

Mike Millian is president of the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada. He can be reached at trucks@pmtc.ca.

Have your say

We won't publish or share your data

*

  • I’m a professional truck driver and with concern for my fellow man I have self isolated. Because I came back from a run with a cough. It’s been over a week now not working and no cash coming in and already feeling the pinch.EI is over run and can’t get through. I am doing the right thing but suffering financially for it. I did go get tested and do not have Covid-19 just a cold. But still doing the self isolation.for concern and safety for my fellow man.

  • I’m searching the internet for some answers today for my brother who was the lone victim in a semi truck roll over accident. He was pinned in the cab and had to be extracted with the jaws of life. He was spine boarded to the emergency medical center where they took the best care of him.
    Thankfully , he came out with very little injury. The accident was a result of him going 5km over the required 30 km rollover corner. The load shifted and he did the right thing by riding it out over the bank. All of his belongings remain in his truck at the tow company, where the Portland(?) Us police refuse to let him retrieve anything. except his passport. The trucking company he works for doesn’t have an apparent plan in place for this. He remains in limbo, in a very stressed state not knowing his rights. The trucking comapny has no idea about what to do either. It’s very sad and frustrating.