John’s a Genuine Trucking Veteran« Back to News Articles
- Owner Drivers
- 27th January 2012
We lost a real rock-solid unionist in February when owner-driver and trucking stalwart John Black pulled the pin after 41 years in transport.
Health problems including a serious hernia and cataracts in the eyes eventually made the job too difficult for him to continue. John is one of hundreds of truckies who got their start in transport working for Bell Bros in Guildford.
He was only 14 at the time and began a long love affair with trucks in the parts store after putting his age up. School obviously wasn't John's cup of tea and
he had walked out of Cyril Jackson High, never to return.
His first job behind the wheel was driving a ute delivering and picking up parts. And he must have shown he knew what he was doing because Bells promoted him to second in charge of their loading ramp.
But the diesel must have found its way into his blood and he ended up in trucks. Before long, his knowledge of the industry saw him promoted into managerial positions and he helped run several of Bell Bros regional depots. He has always been held in high esteem by his contemporaries and was regarded as one of the best operators in transport.
For the past 24 years he has earned the family crust as an owner-driver and did reasonably well carting for good, reliable clients in the mining industry.
But he urges people to be very cautious about buying a truck and becoming an owner-operator. "To any young bloke thinking about it I say you are never going to be a millionaire." he warns. "There are too many people out there trying to rip you off. People who don't pay you for the hard work you have done for them."
John and his wife of 40 years, Pam, can speak with experience. One of their major clients went broke a year or two back owing them a lot of money. They are still fighting to get at least some of it back.
It's sad really, because the couple have put their heart and soul into the industry over many years and this latest episode has slightly soured a labour of love for them.
In his resignation letter to the TWU John applauds the efforts of our union in fighting for the rights of owner-drivers.
"Jim McGiveron and the boys at the TWU have taken steps in the right direction but it is still hard and you learn the hard way. "The TWU today is a procative, professional and diligent tool equipped to handle the most problematic situations that are passed down to workers and contractors alike from the so-called ‘Transport Gods' above us," said John in his resignation letter.
"It is only through strong membership and commitment from the TWU that we go forward as a team to keep the ‘bastards' honest. And our rights and pay conditions held firmly in place by the dedicated TWU team." John said
And it is only through members like John Black, who have a bit of steel in their backbone and the courage of their convictions that make us strong together. He says the Wheel is a fantastic publication and we will make sure he always gets it by making him a member of our exclusive Veterans Club.
TWU members who permanently retire after no less than 25 years as a member are invited to join. And John Black and long-term members like him will always be part of the TWU family. We wish him and Pam the very best and hope things turn out all right for them.