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StarTrack workers to strike after pay talks reach stalemate

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StarTrack workers angry over the lack of job security guarantees will hold a 24-hour strike on Thursday after the company knocked back invitations for an urgent negotiation meeting.

Last week a ballot closed with a 90 per cent endorsement of strikes, giving around 2000 StarTrack union members – roughly 70 per cent of the workforce – protection to go on strike.

The Transport Workers Union wrote to StarTrack on Monday to call crisis talks and again outlined the specific job security guarantees workers need. The union said the company declined to meet and failed to respond to workers’ demands.

The TWU said the job security battle follows an increase in the outsourcing of work to rates as high as 70 per cent at some StarTrack yards, which the unon said starves employees of overtime and threatens job security.

In response, workers are seeking guarantees in their enterprise agreement including the same pay and conditions for labour hire workers as employees, caps on the use of outside hire and commitments to offer all available hours to employees before contracting out.

TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said StarTrack has deliberately and repeatedly created unreasonable delays to resolve the job security concerns of its workforce.

“For months now, the workers sweating it out in trucks and distribution centres to meet extreme demand have been battling behind the scenes to protect their jobs against an insurgence of outsourcing to lower paid workers,” said Kaine.

“The company turned a deaf ear to the considerable warning of workers who strongly endorsed action last week and then called for crisis talks to prevent the need for strikes.

“We know the Australian community expects more from government-owned Australia Post than for hardworking people’s jobs to be on the line when demand and revenues are through the roof.”

In a written statement, a StarTrack spokesperson told Big Rigs the company was disappointed that the TWU is calling a strike when the delivery of essential items has never been more important, particularly for those in vulnerable regional communities requiring essential supplies such as medicines, protective equipment and vaccines.

“We have prepared and have contingencies in place including the reallocation of resources to ensure that any delivery impact is minimised.”

StarTrack added that it had put its best and final pay offer to the union, which includes a “market-leading” guaranteed pay rise of 9 per cent over three years, delivered as 3 per cent compounding each year.

“This is the best pay offer among our competitors. StarTrack is not proposing any reductions in pay or conditions for its employees.”

StarTrack also said that less than one-third of StarTrack’s workforce voted to support this action, and strongly rejects that job security is under threat.

“In fact StarTrack’s enterprise agreements, which were negotiated with the TWU in 2017 and 2018, already contain significant job security protections including paying EBA labour rates to labour-hire personnel; paying EBA labour rates to outside hire and independent contractors, and converting casual employees after regular and systematic engagement over a certain period of time.

“As part of the current round of negotiations StarTrack has offered to further enhance job security protections including introducing new labour-hire conversion rights; enhancing casual conversion rights, and improving auditing processes to ensure outside hire supplier are providing EBA rates of pay.”

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