Adelaide garbage drivers to strike for better pay and rostering

Garbage truck drivers across Greater Adelaide will strike this Friday after they say waste giant Cleanaway refused to compromise on rostering changes.

A statement from the Transport Workers’ Union said that the scheduling demands would adversely impact drivers’ work-life balance and undermine fatigue management, including by making weekend work compulsory.

“Exhausted drivers are already reporting serious safety concerns as they are forced to work longer hours to cover significant roster gaps,” the TWU said.

“Cleanaway’s wage offer of only half the rate of inflation only increases the pressure on drivers who will have to work longer hours or drive tired to make up for real wage cuts.”

The strike is expected to impact the collection of approximately 45,000 bins across the Greater Adelaide area, including the Cities of Charles Sturt, Port Adelaide Enfield, Marion and Adelaide. Commercial operators including Adelaide Airport, On The Run and the Department of Education will also be impacted.

The strike follows TWU garbage truck drivers last week returning an overwhelming 96 per cent yes vote to taking 24-hour industrial action to break the bargaining impasse.

Cleanaway, which has more than half of local council rubbish work, has offered an annual 2.3 per cent increase for top graded drivers and 2.3 per cent for second tier workers.

The union wants at least 4.6 per cent along with additional superannuation.

TWU SA/NT secretary Ian Smith said industrial action is always a last resort, but drivers had been left with no choice given Cleanaway’s refusal to listen to drivers.

“Cleanaway drivers will strike on Friday to send management a clear message that workplace safety and fair recognition for their work are non-negotiable,” Smith said.

“Waste work is hard work. When the rest of the community is still asleep, waste drivers are already behind the wheel performing an essential service. They do it without complaint because they know the community is counting on them, but that doesn’t mean they should be forced to accept a shoddy deal”.

“Without effective fatigue management and fair pay to retain skilled drivers in the industry, the deadly race to the bottom will continue. Drivers will be forced to drive to exhaustion and the risk of tragic incidents on our roads will skyrocket. Stripping out strong protections will only hurt drivers, their families and the community”.

As the economic employers engaging Cleanaway, Smith added that councils also have a responsibility here to ensure waste contracts lift standards and protect workers’ conditions.

“They should be hauling Cleanaway management over the coals for these unacceptable attacks,” he added.

“Cleanaway’s forgotten that its drivers are the backbone of the company. It must drop its brazen, anti-worker tactics and get back to the bargaining table to settle a safe and fair deal with its drivers.”

A Cleanaway spokesman warned of disruptions. “Cleanaway will continue to negotiate … in good faith,” he said.

“We will continue to engage transparently with the (TWU) to reach an agreement as soon as possible.

“We expect there to be some disruptions to household collections on Friday, however we will ensure contingencies are in place to minimise any impact.”

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