Opinion

Putting employees and owner-drivers first

The TWU has worked hard with members to build a range of in-principle enterprise agreements across major yards like those at Linfox, Toll, Ceva and Global Express. 

Delegates across those yards have endorsed the agreements and they will now be taken back to rank and file members to be put to the vote. 

It has been an intense negotiation process with managements crying poor, suggesting they have not been making money for years. Some managements suggested that workers should not be asking for job security, superannuation or pay, they should just be grateful for having jobs.

Company managements used Zoom meetings to try and divide workers, and in some cases tried to avoid negotiations altogether, engaging in union busting behaviour.

TWU negotiating committees have had none of that. We have used protected action to send a message, going on the grass at Toll, FedEx and StarTrack.

With union strength behind them, negotiating committees have brought home agreements at Toll, Global Express, Ceva and Linfox. 

Members have secured job security protections and industry-first 15 per cent superannuation offers in the in-principle agreements. If outside hire is used, they have the same pay, there are limits on outsourcing, commitments to give employees first preference over all available work, and improvements to consultation and auditing rights to further protect employees from their work being contracted out. 

These in-principle agreements protect existing terms and conditions, and protect the future protects a transport worker’s family. The agreements ensure that companies are properly utilising employee and owner-drivers before resorting to outside hire. 

StarTrack and FedEx at time of writing, are playing hardball, refusing to acknowledge workers need secure jobs, refusing to acknowledge superannuation increases are important, and we are investigating claims that StarTrack has come down hard on workers for taking protected strike action. 

Negotiating committees are presenting settlement proposals with job security provisions which provide guarantees for workers while allowing flexibility for companies. As Christmas draws nearer and negotiations reach their sixth month, it’s time to end the attack on jobs and prevent the need for further industrial action.

TWU actions are not just directed at the attack on job security by companies. TWU Members from StarTrack, Toll and FedEx members have explained the problems in the transport industry to a Federal Government Senate Inquiry. 

We are calling for our federal government to stop pretending the problems do not exist, and to come back to the table to talk about establishing an independent body to set minimum binding standards for transport. We must eradicate the ‘Amazon Effect’ of squeezing supply chains from the top and exploiting workers at the bottom. 

The transport industry is still feeling the pressure, the threats of insecure work, the financial pressures to get the load there for the cheapest rate, insurance costs, fuel and toll road costs, like those imposed by Transurban Linkt and more. 

Workers are going at it harder than ever and doing it tough. This is an industry-wide emergency requiring federal government action. 

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