Opinion

Ongoing threat to job security

It is a hard day for transport workers, when two of the major transport companies across Australia, take on a hard stance against those who work for them. 

StarTrack and FedEx are lacking in their duty of care and are failing to respect their workforces when it comes to negotiating for a better deal. 

StarTrack has walked away from negotiations; in fact, it has been hard to get them to the table all year. 

They are stubbornly refusing many requests to meet worker representatives and finalise agreements in their yards. The TWU has made some wins; we are looking to settle for fair outcomes for all members on contracting out protections, moving to a single agreement with a common expiry date, stronger dispute resolution and recognition for work done during the Covid period.

FedEx, have engaged in heavy-handed tactics, that they might think works in American yards, but not here. 

We have repeatedly reminded them negotiation between members and the company is how it works. 

Late at night at the bargaining table and through a flyer to workers, FedEx attempted to strong arm the workforce into accepting a substandard pay and Agreement expiry offer. They have also now refused to come back to the negotiating table. FedEx exploited workers’ good faith.

These two companies are the outliers in an industry where five major companies, Linfox, Toll, Global Express, BevChain and CEVA have already settled with the TWU for better deals for worker. 

These deals include job security, site rates for outsourced drivers, 15 per cent super and ratios in favour of the proper utilisation of current employees. A strong and united TWU membership is the support base behind the Agreements won over the past few weeks. 

The TWU is questioning company motivations, StarTrack workers have not received a pay rise in two years, yet head executives at Australia post are receiving exorbitant bonuses. Lead negotiator Sue Davies on her own, received a pay packet of over $1.5 million, with a bonus almost 100 per cent of her salary. Meanwhile the company still refuses to return to the bargaining table with a fair offer for workers.

When most of the industry has fallen in line, these two companies are refusing to reveal why they are not ready to come to the table. It shows a clear lack of respect for the people on and off trucks that kept their businesses moving forward and built the profits for bonuses and more, during the pandemic. 

It should not have come to this; the federal government should have regulated the industry to protect secure transport jobs, but has not. Workers have no choice but to fight back. 

The industry faces enough every day, like Transurban Linkt toll roads, higher fuel prices and insecurity at work. 

There is a workable blueprint sitting on the Prime Minister’s desk: a landmark Senate report recommending an independent body to create and enforce minimum standards in transport, which would also tackle the ‘Amazon Effect’ crushing the industry. It is time Scott Morrison implemented it.

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