Bevchain is being pressed to meet the standards contained in enterprise agreements at Toll and Linfox or face the prospect of industrial action.
The New South Wales branch of the Transport Workers Union (TWU) wants Bevchain to follow the lead of Australia’s two largest transport operators by agreeing to generous wage and superannuation increases and job security guarantees in its next enterprise agreement.
Talks between the NSW TWU and the alcoholic beverage transporter, which is a joint venture between Lion Nathan and Linfox, have hit a stalemate on wages and workplace conditions, prompting the union to seek approval for industrial action.
"It is a major transport company, the largest transport company in the beverage sector. They should be able to meet the upper end of industry standards in the transport industry," NSW TWU assistant secretary Michael Aird says.
"We think it [the agreement] should be setting a benchmark with industry standards consistent with the likes of Toll, Linfox and Star Track and others."
The TWU has struck agreements with Toll and Linfox that include significant pay and superannuation increases, site rates for contractors and the establishment of safe rates committees.
Aird says the NSW TWU wants a 16 per cent wage increase over the four years of the enterprise agreement and a commitment from Bevchain to lift superannuation to 15 per cent.
"If they profess to be the industry leader then they should show that with the pay and conditions they are offering," he says.
"What we’re seeking is industry standards. We’re not seeking anything special."
Aird says the union and Bevchain are yet to reach a compromise on job security arrangements, which include discussions around outsourcing of work and moving employees to full-time.
"We haven’t actually sought site rates. We have sought substantial arrangements in regard to the use of outside hire, including payments above the modern award," he says.
The Fair Work Commission last week approved the NSW TWU’s application for protected industrial action.
The union will soon ballot members working for Bevchain to see if they support strikes and bans on overtime.
NSW TWU state secretary Wayne Forno last week warned industrial action could lead to beer shortages throughout NSW, a claim Aird has repeated.
"It would be a real shame with the footy finals coming up in the AFL and the Rugby League if people weren’t able to have a Tooheys New while they are watching those games," he says.
"We don’t want to see beer run out in Sydney but that’s a matter for Bevchain."
Lion Nathan manufactures well-known brands such as XXXX, Toohey’s Hahn, James Boag and Speight’s.
Bevchain has not yet responded to a request for comment.