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Truckie strike looming after Toll talks break down

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The Transport Workers Union (TWU) said a proposed truckie strike in protest to a pay negotiation breakdown with Toll yesterday would “cripple” food and fuel supplies across Australia.

The TWU said drivers are now preparing an application to the Fair Work Commission to hold a vote to go on strike as early as mid-August, with the move affecting almost 7000 Toll workers who are union members.

The union said that Toll’s push for a substandard enterprise agreement is aimed at slashing pay and conditions in Toll yards to win work from wealthy retailers and manufacturers by offering low rates.

Toll’s proposed changes include employing all new drivers as part-time workers on rates just above the award minimum and paying no more than the national guarantee of 10% in super.

The TWU believes the agreement threatens the job security and earning potential of workers by scrapping overtime entitlements, introducing a ‘B’ rate for new employees on far worse pay and conditions, and attempting to remove job security protections which would allow good reliable Toll jobs to be contracted out to the lowest common denominator.

“This is an outrageous attack on the jobs of hard-working truck drivers,” said TWU national secretary Michael Kaine.

“Over the last year, truckies worked harder than ever and delayed negotiations to assist Toll while the effect on the economy played out.

“During that time, profits have skyrocketed at the wealthy clients whose goods drivers have been transporting. They are furious that demand has soared, but transport contracts are squeezed and exploitative gig economy models are expanding in transport such as AmazonFlex, forcing workers to suffer through degraded jobs.”

Kaine said the agreement proposed by Toll will lower standards in an industry already in crisis.

“Drivers know all too well what happens when conditions and pay are dragged down in transport: stressed, chronically fatigued drivers are forced to work long hours, speed and skip rest breaks resulting in deaths and injuries on our roads.

“Toll workers are taking this stance for themselves and their families but also for safety across the industry. We should be lifting standards in Australia’s deadliest industry, not pulling them down.”

TWU NSW Branch Secretary and lead Toll negotiator Richard Olsen said workers are disappointed that Toll has joined the race to the bottom in transport.

“Toll workers have been loyal to the company for decades, including through the last 18 months of sustained Christmas-level demand,” Olsen said.

“We know that Toll’s clients like Amazon have made multibillion-dollar profits throughout the pandemic. The transport workers who’ve made that happen should be rewarded but instead their jobs and earnings are under threat.

“Toll workers take pride in their jobs and enjoy supplying our communities with essential goods. They do not take a decision to go on strike lightly, but Toll management has left them no choice but to pursue this.”

Other proposed changes by Toll include:

  • Outsourcing work and undermining clauses in the current agreement to engage Toll employees before outside hire
  • A refusal to ensure outsourced contractors are paying their drivers the same wages as Toll workers, despite this being a clause in successive Toll agreements
  • Part-time workers to lose overtime entitlements with additional work up to 38 hours a week to be paid at ordinary rates, in violation of the award standards
  • A refusal to sign a deed of transfer ensuring that workers pay and conditions will be guaranteed at Allegro, rather than being forced to negotiate again with worse outcomes
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