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Union presses for pay and safety reforms at national summit

Transport workers, union leaders and politicians are focusing on the push for regulated industry-wide standards, fairness and safety in road, gig and aviation at the annual Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) National Council in Hobart this week.

TWU national secretary Michael Kaine and newly elected national president and Vic/Tas secretary Mike Mcness lead the four-day event, where TWU’s rank and file council along with elected leadership will make key decisions about the plan to rebuild aviation and reforms to tackle deadly conditions in road transport and the gig economy.

Protecting the rights of transport gig workers as a mechanism to strengthen a sustainable transport industry will be a key focus of the council with union leader Michael Kaine poised to make a major announcement in his keynote address on Tuesday.

After the Federal Court last week found for a second time that Qantas broke the law in sacking and outsourcing 2000 ground and baggage workers but failed to order their reinstatement, the council will also call for a Safe & Secure Skies Commission to protect airport jobs, safety and service.

On Thursday morning, TWU members, delegates and elected officials will protest at Hobart’s Parliament House over government inaction on the Senate recommendations tabled nine months ago, calling for regulation to make trucking – Australia’s deadliest industry – safer, fairer and more sustainable.

Shadow Industrial Relations Minister Tony Burke MP will address the council on Thursday in a keynote address, followed by Senator Tony Sheldon.

Senior representatives from Coles and Woolworths will also be in attendance to hold discussions on safe transport supply chains.

“Over the last 12 months, the Australian community has suffered the consequences of government inaction on transport supply chains and a national plan for aviation,” said Kaine.

“We’ve had empty shelves in our supermarkets, major covid outbreaks in essential transport workplaces, mass truck strikes as workers fought off attacks to their job security, and an Easter break ruined by extreme airport delays and lost luggage.

“Every year, the Australian public suffers the loss of hundreds of mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, friends and other relatives in preventable truck crashes.

“We are in the depths of a cost-of-living crisis, exacerbated in transport by the Amazon Effect of deadly cost-cutting from the top while good, safe jobs are undercut by gig-style exploitation.”

Kaine said there has never been greater need for reform to ensure hard-won rights and protections are retained by workers.

“We lose businesses that can’t compete with a workforce ripped off minimum wages and conditions. We lose houses and we lose lives. We lose the security of essential goods reaching supermarkets and hospitals. We lose the future we promised to the next generation.”

To watch the below sessions live, click here.

Tuesday, May 10

9.15am: Welcome address by ALP Labor Leader for Tasmania Rebecca White MP

9.35am: Keynote address by TWU national secretary Michael Kaine including major gig economy announcement

10.00am: Press conference on gig economy announcement

Thursday, May 12

10.10am: Parliament House worker protest over Government inaction on Senate recommendations to make trucking safer and fairer

2.15pm: Keynote address Shadow Industrial Relations Minister Hon Tony Burke MP

2.45pm: Keynote address Senator Tony Sheldon

3.35pm: Panel discussion: Retail Supply Chain Alliance with SDA National Secretary Gerard Dwyer and AWU national secretary Daniel Walton

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