Kevin Robinson is proud of his driving record.
Forty-nine years on the road, steering heavy trucks laden with sand and crushed stone, and not one accident.
Mr Robinson’s working life ended on Friday when he collected his final pay slip and departed the Albion Park yard that has been his base for the past 15 years.
He was one of 19 workers made redundant from Holcim’s Illawarra yard this week.
“I was going to work another five years,” Mr Robinson, 65, told the Mercury.
“I don’t think anybody will employ me now because I’m too old.
“I won’t work for a contractor. It’s going backwards if I do.”
Holcim reviewed its Illawarra operation late last year and – in a move that has taken the Transport Workers Union by surprise – opted to switch from a combination of company drivers and contract carriers to a workforce made up entirely of the latter.
The sacked drivers have been told they are welcome to work for the company again as contractors.
Mr Robinson will not pursue that work, citing safety concerns, a wage disparity and pride.
He says he despairs for his industry, where contractors racing against the clock are increasingly the norm.
“Their drivers get $24-$26 an hour. We were on $29 an hour,” he said.
“And the trouble is, the contractors are in a hurry all the time.
“Their bosses get a certain amount for each kilometre or tonne, so it’s push, push, push.
“All the years I’ve put in - I’ve got a fantastic driving record and I’m not going to risk it for just working a few more years, when safety goes out the window.”
Rob Pirc, South Coast and Southern sub-branch secretary of the TWU, says Friday’s redundancies were unceremonious and unfair.
“The real travesty about all this is that there is no loss of work in the company, in fact their business increased by about 40 per cent over the last 12-14 months, so the work is definitely there,” he said.
"They were obviously making deals with other carriers and they were always going to do this to the guys.”
A Holcim spokeswoman said workers would be offered support in looking for new jobs.
“The recent review showed that the current operational structure and fleet management program is not sustainable over the longer term and we need to fully outsource by using a contractor fleet structure – as we do already in other areas.”
“Having said this, obviously its’ still a very difficult time for our people who are affected by this decision and we are working on redeployment options within the company where possible. This is certainly our priority.”
“Clearly we don’t take these decisions lightly and we are doing all we can to help our affected people.”