'P*ssed off' Kruger faces angry unions at Toll AGM

Release date: 26/10/2012

Union officials have used Toll’s annual general meeting today to accuse the company of mistreating truck drivers, but Managing Director Brian Kruger has questioned the credibility of the accusations.

By Ruza Zivkusic-Aftasi, Australasian Transport News, 26 October 2012

The United States-based International Brotherhood of Teamsters union joined with the Transport Workers Union (TWU) to demand safer working conditions and better pay across all Toll sites.

A petition was presented to Kruger calling on him to commit to common standards, values and practices as part of the business’s ‘One Toll’ policy established last year.

"So far today there have been empty promises and we have seen transport workers across the Toll group in the US particularly treated in an atrocious manner and it’s simply not good enough,” TWU official Michael Aird says.

The TWU says the business is responsible for enforcing an intimidating culture where almost 70 percent of drivers feel they can’t express their safety concerns.

Kruger, who responded to Aird during the meeting’s question time, says Toll’s US operation has been hit with 12 allegations in the past year from the Teamsters, all of which Toll denies.

Toll is accused of threatening drivers who support the Teamsters and denying them access to lunchrooms and clean bathrooms.

“I think the issue of credibility is starting to be seriously questioned in the US,” Kruger says.

“I have been to sites numerous of times and I will follow up on the allegations.”

Kruger says the Teamsters and TWU operate in different markets where there are different customers, competitors and environments.

“To think that One Toll means that everything is going to be the same is not going to happen. We need to have a framework that we can work within and to make sure that the agreements we reach are suitable for the particular areas we are talking about,” he says.

Toll is due to meet with its lawyers today to discuss the TWU’s concerns.

US Toll driver and Teamsters member Karael Vallecillo (pictured speaking to the media), who came directly from Los Angeles to confront Toll, says the company treats its US workforce like "animals" and that all Toll workers should be treated the same.

“We are proud to say that Toll is one of the biggest companies here in Australia and we want to get the same treatment my co-workers here have,” he says.

Unlike other media outlets, ATN was today denied access to Kruger.

Toll spokesman Christopher Whitefield says Kruger is “pretty pissed off” at ATN for its coverage of the dispute between the company and the Teamsters.

He says Kruger won’t be making a comment to ATN anytime soon, adding that Paul Little’s successor has a “very good memory”.

In his AGM address, Kruger highlighted the results of the 2011-12 financial year.

Toll Global Resources has grown on the back of work in the resources sector, but the Global Logistics and Global Forwarding divisions continue to operate in challenging international environments.

“The domestic Australian operations of Toll Global Express held up pretty well considering softness in some of their key markets and some significant cost pressures,” Kruger says.

“The top line growth was a result of new customer wins, in particular in Western Australia and Queensland, where a focus on providing our service offering to resources customers proved successful.

“Toll Domestic Forwarding’s result was lower, principally due to the deterioration in the results of its Refrigerated business.”

Toll earlier this year sold its loss-making refrigerated division to Rand Refrigerated Logistics for $6.5 million.

CORRECTION: The original article attributed the accusation that Toll treats its drivers like "animals" to Michael Aird. That was incorrect. ATN apologises for the error.

Click this link to view the original article at Australasian Transport News.

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