In the past couple of weeks, executives from the company Amazon appeared before the Federal Senate Select Committee on Job Security. The inquiry is looking into the substandard treatment of workers by Amazon.
The TWU has been looking to hold Amazon to account over poor safety standards with its casualised workforce.
It does not help that the Federal Government tore down an independent tribunal, which was investigating risks to safety in road transport. The tribunal was mandated to hold companies like Amazon to account over poor safety standards.
In the view of the TWU, Amazon has broken regulations on safety training and workers’ rights. For months Amazon was failing to provide mandated and approved ‘BlueCard’ safety training to its transport workers in Amazon Flex in contravention of NSW regulations.
Transport workers know this training is vital in ensuring workers are aware of the risks to their health and safety, know how to deal with incidents and emergencies and where to report them. Amazon also refused entry to our officials, even calling the police to have them removed.
Amazon has long had a reputation internationally for being an anti-union employer by blocking union access to their sites and sacking thousands of union members abroad. Amazon has brought the same attitude to Australia with several instances already reported of TWU officials denied access to Amazon sites despite giving prior notice and holding right of entry permits issued by FairWork.
The TWU has identified the current trends of gig work expansion into the industry and the subsequent problems that brings. Companies like AusPost, Uber Freight and Amazon Flex are looking to undercut the freight industry with their version of a profitable business model that can involve systemic worker exploitation. These companies have to try to fly under the radar, hoping to reduce workplace regulation and see in a rise of automation and surveillance technology.
The TWU recognises the impact that job losses will particularly have on the truck driving industry, for the most part, members who have driven for decades and approach truck driving as a profession.
Whilst the advent of autonomous truck driving technologies has the means of establishing the need for new highly skilled jobs, the shedding of truck drivers will devastate hard working Australians who made personal sacrifices for themselves and their families.
It is clear we live in an era of technological revolution where advancements are rapidly increasing. The transport industry has not been immune to automation and surveillance technology development.
However, serious ethical issues remain including job losses, the impact on regional areas and cybersecurity risks.
There are too many unanswered questions. Safety is a prime concern and drivers need quality employment in the future, anything less abandons them, their loved ones and future generations.