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Dr J.Karp PhD (Syd.Uni) Interdisciplinary International Social Science Conference 2 nd to 4 th August 2010 University of Cambridge 1.

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Presentation on theme: "Dr J.Karp PhD (Syd.Uni) Interdisciplinary International Social Science Conference 2 nd to 4 th August 2010 University of Cambridge 1."— Presentation transcript:

1 Dr J.Karp PhD (Syd.Uni) Interdisciplinary International Social Science Conference 2 nd to 4 th August 2010 University of Cambridge 1

2 Aims of the paper: 1. To construct a picture of what it is like to be a driver in the long haul trucking industry in Australia. 2. To explore the nature and extent of hidden, secret, illicit activities in the industry and the impact on drivers lives of these activities and the networks that support them. Argument: Unless our research on particular working environments includes an investigation of the nature and extent of illicit networks within these work sites, the understanding we have of these workplaces and contexts, and of the lives of workers in these industries remains, partial and distorted. Assumptions: 1. That stories about and accounts of workers lived experience should be regarded as having value and weight as important and authoritative. 2. That information about illicit network research is important and crucial to exploring the lives of these truck drivers. 2

3 3 Dictionary definitions Illicit: a. Not legally permitted or authorised; unlicensed; unlawful. b. Disapproved of or not permitted for moral or ethical reasons. Networks: An association of individuals having a common interest. Networks represent connections – connections between people who know one another and share similar interests with one another, including similar employment interests. They exist within a larger organisation, industry or community but may also stretch across organisational structures.

4 4 METHODOLOGY Type of research: This research was conducted in the field. The participants were male long haul drivers driving on the eastern seaboard of Australia. The researcher drove with the drivers on long distance trips. I did not, however, regard myself as a participant observer. While observation was an important aspect of the study, the level of participant was limited and cautious, more a toe in the water approach. The field: The Eastern seaboard of Australia was the area of engagement. Interstate means over a 500km distance and away from home over night. The front end of the truck is the prime mover. The researcher rode in the cabin, seated on the left of the driver. Bunk at the back. A tight space. The main issue is moving a product, with speed, on time, reliably and arriving safely. The researcher must not interfere with the drivers concentration therefore long periods of not talking has to be maintained. Approach and methods: The questions were general, the interviewee responses specific. I completed 21 interviews. Eighteen were taped – one and half to two hours long. Three interviews were recorded using hand written notes. I have occasionally returned to the work site to clarify issues.

5 5 METHODS This research was conducted in the field. The researcher drove with the drivers on long distance trips but not as a participant observer more a toe in the water approach. The Eastern seaboard of Australia was the area of engagement. The people being spoken to were men. Interstate means over a 500km distance and away from home over night. The front end of the truck is the prime mover. Passenger seat on the left, and driver on the right, bunk at the back. A tight space, the seats are air operated, there is also, radios, computers, complex electrical systems and then the driving of the heavy loaded truck. The main issue is moving a product, with speed, on time, reliably and arriving safely. The researcher must not interfere with the drivers concentration. The methods consisted of riding with the long haul drivers and recording their conversations. The questions were general, the interviewee responses' specific. I completed 18 - one and half to two hour long tapes conversations. On three occasions I hand wrote notes from drivers answers. Drivers told the researcher what their experiences were in the long haul trucking industry. I occasionally go back to the work site to clarify issues. The methods cont......

6 Background information: Road transport services will increase at a pace faster than the growth in truck driver employment (Truck Driver Recruitment, Retention and Retirement 12 Jan 2010.Pg.3). Over 50% of truck drivers work in excess of 41 hours a week – the average hours worked is 46.8 hours compared with 39.7 hours for all occupations. This means that truck drivers work on average work an additional hours per year compared with all occupations average (http://www.btre.gov.au/docs/evento/ATS2006.pdf).www.ad.comhttp://www.btre.gov.au/docs/evento/ATS2006.pdf NSW Industrial Award Wages: (a) $ AUS (b) $647 American Dollars, (c) 468 Euros. PER WEEK. The award has now been nationalised, the modern award and reduced by $77 per week: For a grade 7 driver,a long haul driver or they may be able to negotiate a rate between 30 and 40 cents per kilometre driven. 6

7 Conversations with the drivers revealed: illegal networking activities in the work place context. Paedophile activity consenting sex between adults, Limited sex resources i.e. the use of condoms or other health information for isolated sex workers/or casual sex partners. Sex Supply /use illegal drugs. Beating the drug tests. Straight drivers watching drug affected drivers Current drug users Drugs Independence Freedom Control Male company with similar aims objectives. I like the lifestyle Psychology Drivers self assessment: idiots, anger, depression I could have been a better father The personal conflicts money or family Conversations with Truckies Economy We are just cannon fodder Contribution to national gross product increases significantly, wages decrease. Looking at Life Through Glass Culture Power, status, work ethic Language, CB conversations on the road meetings, showering, sharing food. Union membership Inside Trucking Cultures 7

8 Summary Networks are particularly difficult to research, whether legal or illegal. However, uncovering illicit activity and networks is especially testing. It involves comprehensive engagement in the field, and meticulous checking of claims so that the conclusion reached are creditable, carry weight, and have value for those seeking to understand this work environment and develop policies in relation to the trucking industry. For the researcher conducting their study in New South Wales, it is mandatory to report indictable offences. In spite of this constraint, the researcher, especially one who works independently of governments, corporations or even of universities, is regarded as less likely to be pushing a barrow or working to a particular political agenda. Research of this kind is more likely to be able to explore effectively and to disentangle the complex relationships between various aspects of the work environment and to understand the nature of power relationships and conflict. It is also more likely to be able to make sense of illicit behaviour and the pressures on people to engage in activities that they might not otherwise choose to engage in. 8

9 The End. Truck photo supplied by :- Kerr Truck Photography. 9


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