The Guardian September 10, 2003


Workers to lower speed limits to 40km

About 500 AWU road workers have unanimously voted to improve Victorian 
workplace safety by adopting 40 kilometre speed limits in road work zones 
where there are no traffic barriers.

The workers also voted to lower speed limits to 25 kilometres an hour when 
the traffic is within one metre from the road work zone and no barriers are 
present.

The two resolutions were developed with the support of the traffic control 
association and several major road contractors. AWU road workers will adopt 
their desired speed limits after September 30 2003. AWU National Secretary 
Bill Shorten said September 30 would give contractors enough notice to 
factor in the cost of any additional speed limit signage when negotiating 
their contracts.

Workers expressed their anger at the lack of public support for their 
safety at their stop work meeting held last week at the Monee Valley 
Racecourse. One worker described how motorists speed past work zones 
exceeding the currently enforceable 60 kilometre limit. Another described 
how a rogue principal contractor left road workers to work at night without 
any lighting on the site.

Mr Shorten said the workers just wanted the same safety standards as South 
Australia, which had legislated 40 kilometre speed limits in the state's 
road work zones.

Road worker killed

The call for tougher measures follows the tragic death of an AWU member 
struck by a runaway truck during his lunch break while working on the 
Geelong to Melbourne Road upgrade late last year.

Mr Shorten said if the Victorian Government could legislate to lower speed 
limits around schools, it could lower the speed limits to protect road 
workers' safety.

"If motorists do not respect 40 kilometre speed limits in work zones not 
protected by traffic barriers, we will do what is necessary to stop 
speeding traffic in order to protect our members' lives".

He said the union would also be seeking to put the new 40 kilometre and 25 
kilometre speed limits in all upcoming road work enterprise bargaining 
agreements. "We see safe speed limits as a condition of work and will 
ensure all future agreements contain the resolutions passed today.

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