Linfox and Bevchain truckies are the latest to join union-led strike threats in a bid to keep jobs in-house.
The Transport Workers Union yesterday applied for protected industrial action ballots covering about 2000 members at Linfox and beverage subsidiary Bevchain to head off what it says are industry bids to cut rates to compete with Uber-like delivery service AmazonFlex.
The union says company proposals replicate those at Toll, StarTrack and FedEx which would allow work to be outsourced and introduce a lower paid, insecure workforce.
There are now more than 15,000 truck drivers heading towards strikes, including the 7000 workers at Toll who are scheduled to walk off the job tomorrow, the first national stoppage in more than a decade.
TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said transport workers are doing whatever they can to fight for good, safe jobs while the federal government remains silent.
“Transport workers are doing the right thing,” Kaine said.
“It takes guts to stand up to your employer and strength to walk off the job, but they know they have no choice. If transport companies push ahead and flood truck yards with low paid, stressed, precarious workers, it will eradicate good, safe jobs in Australia’s deadliest industry.
“Transport is facing a tsunami of underemployment. Wealthy retailers, manufacturers and oil companies are literally raking in the billions while shaving costs off the movement of their goods around the country. The impact of this has been an undercurrent in transport for years, and now a deadly swell has arrived.
“Transport companies are under pressure from a constant squeeze on rates from the likes of Amazon and Aldi, but rather than facing off the cost-cutting to ensure the work can be done safely and viably, they’re passing the buck onto workers through attempts to replace decent jobs with an insecure workforce.
Linfox said it was confident it could reach a resolution and the protected action ballot application “does not reflect the current state of Linfox and BevChain negotiations”.
“In the spirit of the ongoing agreement we have had with the TWU for the last three decades, Linfox has had and continues to have discussions with the unions in good faith,” a spokeswoman told the Australian Financial Review.
She said Linfox had “always ensured fair and reasonable rates for our workers that are above award”.
“However we will always negotiate for a fair outcome for our people and our customers.”