February 3, 2020

TWU responds to COVID-19 pandemic

Transport workers from all sectors are being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. From the beginning, transport workers have been on the frontline of this crisis, but while publicly hailing them heroes, the government has done little else to support them.

The TWU is committed to protecting members across all sectors of transport. We’re holding companies and the government to account to ensure workers are kept safe, their pay and conditions protected, and to ensure workers will be prioritised when our industry returns to full health.

Your health

Nothing is more important than protecting your health and safety, including mental health. During this pandemic, the TWU continues to fight for worker protections including additional measures around social distancing, PPE, stopping cash handling on buses, keeping truck stops open and hygienic and to ensure workers are not disciplined for raising legitimate healthy and safety concerns. As restrictions are lifted, it is more important than ever that workplaces are safe environments, and that workers also take responsibility for staying safe at work.

Click here for health advice on coronavirus, its symptoms and how to protect yourself at work

Industry-wide WHS audit

The TWU is conducting a huge audit of transport companies’ covid-safe plans. All transport workers and their families must be kept safe while undertaking the essential service they provide to our communities. We are reminding employers of their duty of care throughout this pandemic and beyond. We also know that appropriate covid-safe plans will be vital for the viability of our industry and the wider economy but helping stop the spread of the virus.

Click here for more information on the audit.

It is always OK to ask for help

If you have a question, concern or just need to talk please reach out to your HSR, delegate, official or branch member services.

Further help is also available: Lifeline 13 11 14, Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636

Your rights

It is more important than ever to stand strong and protect worker entitlements. When we stand strong together we can stop employers taking advantage of the situation to lower workers’ pay and conditions. Congratulations to all members who’ve stood strong to protect their rights, here’s just a few examples of what you’ve achieved lately:

  • ensuring Prosegur implements a fairer system for allocating hours
  • forcing Ceva to pay workers their owed pay rise
  • taking Qantas to court over their misuse of JobKeeper payments and for refusing terminally ill workers their sick leave
  • lobbying the government for unfairly excluding workers from JobKeeper
  • deferring bargaining until the industry is in a stronger position to get you the pay and entitlements you deserve
  • putting in place coronavirus provisions such as special leave for those needing to self-isolate



Click here for our FAQ on the Job Keeper payment.

After a strong fight from TWU members and then the broader union movement, the Morrison Government was forced to backflip on its previous refusal to provide a wage subsidy. With further efforts from our members, the JobKeeper scheme has now been extended to March 2021. However, will the payment slashed from September and thousands of workers still left behind, the fight continues to see transport workers through this difficult time.

The JobKeeper payments is currently a flat $1,500 a fortnight (before tax) wage subsidy to businesses that can provide evidence of the impact of COVID-19 on their income, in order to retain workers during the crisis. The JobKeeper payment will be paid to all full-time, part-time, sole traders and ongoing casual employees (12 months or more of service) through your employer’s payroll. Beyond September, the payment will be reduced to $1,200 a fortnight for those who work 20 hours or more, and $750 a fortnight to those who work less than 20 hours – calculated based on average hours during February 2020. From January 2021 the payment will be further reduced to $1000 for full-time, and $650 for part-time workers.

We are fighting hard to ensure no worker is left behind. In an appalling last-minute move, the Government introduced a loophole that excluded thousands of aviation workers. Short-term casuals and visa holders are also left out in the cold.


More on TWU’s response

The TWU is working with members, delegates, unions, SafeWork Australia, industry groups, employers, clients and politicians to put in place protections for workers from all sectors. We’re taking a united approach to put pressure on the Federal Government and companies to do right by their workers.

Calling on the Federal Government to protect workers

The TWU was first to call on the government to support all workers. Months ago, we called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to urgently meet with worker representatives and pay wages to those unable to work. We continue to fight for these demands:

  • JobKeeper payments for all workers
  • A national plan for aviation to ensure its long-term stability and fairness for workers
  • Coronavirus provisions in workplaces for the safety of all workers, their families and communities

Deferring bargaining

Over 200 transport agreements were due to expire this year. At this critical time, with a downturn in the economy and many workers stood-down, we would not be in a strong position to negotiate the best possible outcome for workers. We have therefore sought a 12 month deferral in bargaining, at which time we will be in a better position to lift standards in transport. In the meantime, we’re negotiating coronavirus provisions for workers, such as paid pandemic leave. Several companies have agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding that provides these protections.

Calling on clients to ensure safety and fairness in supply chains

We’ve written to major clients in transport supply chains, particularly those in retail who have remained highly profitable and even experienced higher demand throughout this crisis, to ensure all workers in their supply chains are kept safe, paid properly and are able to manage fatigue.

Emergency Transport Roundtable

The TWU and ARTIO held a crisis transport industry roundtable to unify the industry in COVID-19 solutions that will support transport workers and operators throughout this uncertain time. The roundtable saw industry groups often on opposing sides of the argument set aside differences and come together for the good of the industry to survive this unprecedented crisis.

A united approach gives our industry the power to pressure the Federal Government into stepping up to its obligations to support our industry and working people.

Click here for the agreed list of solutions.

Click here for the Facebook live stream of the press conference.

Protection for bus drivers

Each of our state branches has campaigned hard to ensure bus drivers are kept safe during the pandemic. Whether it be cash bans, cordoning off the front section to ensure social distancing, or installing spit screens, we’re working together with drivers to ensure they feel confident to continue performing their essential service during this time.

Fighting for aviation workers on the frontline

Aviation has been hit hard by this crisis, but workers have united across sectors and companies to call for the Federal Government to implement a national aviation plan, including:

  • A two airline model
  • Government equity in airlines to ensure long-term stability
  • Accessible and affordable services for regional communities
  • Protection and promotion of regional jobs
  • JobKeeper for all aviation workers
  • Same pay for the same job for all aviation workers
  • Safe supply chains
  • Capped CEO salaries
  • Regulation of airports

Click here for our latest aviation newsletters.

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