TWU warns of further transport strikes


Transport Workers Union cites the ‘Amazon Effect’ has it continues push for worker protection against industry outsourcing

TWU warns of further transport strikes
The TWU says workers are keen to reach an agreement quickly, enabling Christmas deliveries to run smoothly.

 

Workers at five major transport operators – StarTrack, FedEx, Toll, Linfox and BevChain – have endorsed participation in a national day of strike action unless their company provides secure work arrangements over the course of the next week, according to the Transport Workers Union (TWU).

For over five months of enterprise agreement negotiations, the TWU says its members have pushed for protections against the rise in outsourcing in the industry as operators aim to slash secure jobs to cope with the Amazon Effect of cost-cutting in supply chains and competition from sham contracting at AmazonFlex.

Workers are reported to be urging all companies to return to the bargaining table and take a reasonable approach over the next week to settle outstanding job security concerns by limiting the use of outside hire and removing financial incentives to contract out work.

The TWU says negotiation meetings will take place in the coming days, though FedEx resisted agreement to a meeting until late on October 6.

If commitments are not provided, the TWU warns that strikes will converge across the industry as workers have the terrible choice of withdrawing their labour or signing away their rights to a secure future. Following months of uncertainty, the union says exhausted workers want to reach agreement with company management as soon as possible, meaning Christmas deliveries can run smoothly.

The TWU points out that transport workers have made sacrifices throughout the pandemic including deferring negotiations for a year, but companies have taken advantage of the COVID crisis to attack jobs and slander workers, all while raking in record revenues up by millions of dollars.

Retailers globally have boomed since the pandemic hit with Amazon announcing profits in the first half of 2021 of $15.89 billion, an increase of 104.2 per cent from $7.78 billion in the same period a year ago.

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TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said government inaction has caused an insecure work crisis to cripple transport supply chains, leaving workers no choice but to go on strike to protect their livelihoods.

"In the absence of regulation, an industry-wide crisis requires an industry-wide response. It is crunch time. Several thousand workers have vowed to unite and take national action if that is what it takes to bring this attack on their jobs to an end as quickly as possible.

"Christmas is fast approaching, and this has gone on long enough. Workers have acted responsibly throughout negotiations, it’s time for transport operators to bring a reasonable solution to the table and provide the guarantees workers need so that national strikes will not be necessary.

"In transport, job security is literally a matter of life or death. When work is pushed out to lower paid workers with fewer rights, safety standards plummet," Kaine says.

"Scott Morrison has the blueprint to end this chaos. Two months ago, a Senate report pushed for the establishment of an independent body to set minimum binding standards in trucking. This would topple the Amazon Effect which is smashing supply chains and undermining minimum standards. What is Morrison waiting for?"


RELATED ARTICLE: TWU slams StarTrack on COVID strike tactic


The TWU says it is investigating bullying of union members and delegates including possible adverse action at StarTrack and FedEx following heavy-handed and potentially illegal responses to recent strikes.

In 2016, the LNP Government abolished a road safety watchdog tasked with holding wealthy retailers, manufacturers and oil companies to account for safe standards in their supply chains. Since then, nearly 1,000 people have died in truck crashes, including more than 200 truck drivers.

Information presented by the TWU says Australia Post reported record revenues to $8.27 billion and a profit before tax of $100.7 million. StarTrack is the group’s most profitable arm with volumes up 12.1 per cent in the last year.

It adds that, in June, FedEx reported record full-year results with revenues jumping to US$84 billion and net income over US$5 billion, while Toll recently reported a huge jump in revenues during the pandemic, $6.3 billion from $4.7 billion in 2020. In December, Linfox reported revenues up $200m to almost $3 billion.

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