Opinion

Job security and shoddy deals for transport workers

strike

It’s been one year since the NorthConnex tunnel opened on the major route in and out of the north of Sydney. Transurban Linkt are the proud parents of the tunnel, born from a deal made with the NSW government that leaves us in debt till 2048.

In one year, tolls for heavy vehicles on the NorthConnex have already increased by more than a dollar. That is the start of a debt burden that will continue to build as the years go by.

The TWU have done the maths. Under the current system of price hikes, where the toll is currently $25.08 for heavy vehicles, we have worked out that by 2048 the toll will have increased to $73.46 per trip through the NorthConnex.

The bottom line is that the cost of every toll road in Sydney will be at least double (and in some cases closer to triple) for heavy vehicles by 2048, compared to today. It is safe to say heavy vehicle operator incomes are unlikely to increase by 2-3 times in the next 26 years.

Clearly this is an out of control deal; there is very little thought given to heavy vehicle operators or the taxpayers of NSW. I have no doubt that to change the deal made, taxpayers will be required to pay more to Transurban, a win for the company either way.

Our message to the new Transport Minister in NSW Rob Stokes, provide us transparency and show us the deal, work with us and the transport industry to reduce the harm that forcing heavy vehicle operators to use toll roads is causing.

If a major transport company like Toll finds the cost of using toll roads outweighs the benefits of using them, then you can only imagine the impact on a small business owner-driver.

We are the most tolled city on Earth and now the NSW government wants to add more tolls. Have the government spoken to experts like Dr Michelle Zeibots, a University of Technology Transport planner, who recently raised concerns during a 2GB Interview that additional road infrastructure and tolls are advancing private operators at the expense of Sydney’s residents.

She said, “Tolls … don’t make things faster, what they can be used to do is to build more roads … But more roads, in and of themselves, don’t get rid of congestion.”

The NorthConnex was supposed to be a boost to the economy and reduce congestion instead it’s clearly a failure in planning and respect to the transport industry.

Speaking of respect, we have won a year-long battle for job security with the TWU bargaining committee reaching an in-principle enterprise agreement with StarTrack leaving (at the time of writing) FedEx as the only major transport operator yet to finalise a fair deal.

Workers won a backdated agreement to compensate them for the drawn-out negotiations, and commitments to job security.  StarTrack’s agreement means that FedEx is the only major transport company refusing to offer workers a fair deal.

The international giant is playing dodgy games with the pay and conditions of its local workforce, exporting its anti-worker standover tactics to Australia and attempting to tear up commitments the company made to workers, months ago

Transport workers across six other major transport companies – including Toll, Global Express and Linfox – have secured fair deals which lock in their job security and significant improvements in pay and conditions.

FedEx needs to come back to the table and at least attempt to understand how things work here, transport workers deserve respect.

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