About 50 owner-drivers parked up at the Woolworths distribution centre in Minchinbury, Sydney, earlier today in protest over increasing costs.
The subbies say that Toll management is refusing to help offset their expenses, especially the crippling impacts of the recent diesel hikes.
One impacted owner-driver, who spoke to Big Rigs on the condition of anonymity, said Toll management left the truckies no choice but to stop work today from 5am.
“For close to 18 months all the costs in the transport industry have been increasing exponentially,” he said.
“We’ve been trying to raise those issues with our management, primarily with the fuel costs. We used to have mechanisms in place which would move our rates up and down as the price of diesel moved up and down.
“But we’ve only seen diesel price moving up and since July last year, our rates haven’t moved at all.
“There’s just this big pot of pain – we’re pretty much running out of money.”
The truckie said diesel is costing anywhere from $500-$1000 extra per week for each truck.
“We just can’t absorb that anymore on top of all the other costs that we’re starting to see.”
He now fears drivers may start to compromise on basic maintenance and servicing just to make ends meet.
“That’s how tight it’s starting to get.”
The drivers say they are tired of being ignored by management, and have passed a motion that they would not go back to work servicing Sydney metro and South Coast supermarkets until they have a resolution.
“We’re not going to go back to work until someone at least comes out and talks to us and puts something on the table so we can keep our trucks running.”
Transport Workers’ Union state secretary Richard Olsen was at the DC this morning to lobby for his members, but told Big Rigs the company was not willing to discuss the matters.
Olsen said he’s now considering filing a dispute with the Fair Work Commission over the truckies’ grievances.
“I think there is meat on this bone that might allow us to pursue this with Fair Work,” said Olsen.
“This is just ludicrous. They’re going broke. They haven’t hadn’t had increases for over 15 months in their terms and formulas.
“There’s been significant increases in labour rates by the federal government through Fair Work, but none of which have been relayed back to the owner-drivers on this site.”
Big Rigs has contacted Toll for comment.
UDPATE – 2pm, September 2
A union spokesperson said members contracting to Toll at Minchinbury have had a win.
The company, “after representations”, has committed to supporting cost recovery for drivers by committing to correct the rate for fuel charges in the unit/hourly rates owner-operators receive.
“Toll will work with the TWU and owner operators to finalise a new rate this coming week,” the union added.