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Mass strikes threatened unless job demands met within a week

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Workers at five major transport operators, StarTrack, FedEx, Toll, Linfox and BevChain say they’ll strike for another day unless they are given secure work arrangements within the next week.

For over five months of enterprise agreement negotiations, TWU members have pushed for protections against what they say is a rise in outsourcing in the industry.

Workers are urging all companies to return to the bargaining table and take a reasonable approach over the next week to settle outstanding job security concerns by limiting the use of outside hire and removing financial incentives to contract out work.

Negotiation meetings will take place in the coming days, though FedEx resisted agreement to a meeting until late last night, says the union in a statement today.

“If commitments are not provided, strikes will converge across the industry as workers have the terrible choice of withdrawing their labour or signing away their rights to a secure future,” the union added.

“Following months of uncertainty, exhausted workers want to reach agreement with company management as soon as possible, meaning Christmas deliveries can run smoothly.”

The union said transport workers have made sacrifices throughout the pandemic including deferring negotiations for a year.

“But companies have taken advantage of the Covid crisis to attack jobs and slander workers, all while raking in record revenues up by millions of dollars.”

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said government inaction has caused an insecure work crisis to cripple transport supply chains, leaving workers no choice but to go on strike to protect their livelihoods.

“In the absence of regulation, an industry-wide crisis requires an industry-wide response. It is crunch time. Several thousand workers have vowed to unite and take national action if that is what it takes to bring this attack on their jobs to an end as quickly as possible.

“Christmas is fast approaching, and this has gone on long enough. Workers have acted responsibly throughout negotiations, it’s time for transport operators to bring a reasonable solution to the table and provide the guarantees workers need so that national strikes will not be necessary.

“In transport, job security is literally a matter of life or death. When work is pushed out to lower paid workers with fewer rights, safety standards plummet.”

FedEx said it is cooperatively negotiating with the TWU to secure an agreement which will provide a fair wage and superannuation increase for employees at the earliest opportunity.

“We are disappointed that the TWU has chosen to take industrial action and is now threatening further industry wide industrial action, despite productive negotiations to date and the impact it will have on customers and the community, especially in these critical times.”

FedEx has been in negotiation with the TWU for the past five months.

“We have tabled an offer which improves current employee entitlements and includes a fair wage and superannuation increase. These increases would come on top of the already above market wage rates and superannuation which we pay our employees, which are higher than many of our competitors,” added a spokesperson.

“We have also addressed the TWU’s primary concern of job security. FedEx has committed to reduce use of outside hire where we are able. However, in the course of doing our business, we do face situations such as annual leave and peak periods where it is necessary to engage outside hire to meet our delivery commitments and provide industry leading service to customers.”

UPDATE: This story was updated on October 8 with a comment from a FedEx spokesperson.

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