The TWU, SDA and AWU are calling on Federal MPs to endorse their plan to safeguard supply chains against external shocks. It follows weeks of chaos from covid and major floods smashing worker pay and safety, and depriving Australians of vital goods.
Today the Retail Supply Chain Alliance will meet with Labor, Crossbench and Coalition MPs seeking commitments to a set of Supply Chain Safety Principles, including:
- Job security commitment to regulate the gig economy and guard against the ‘Amazon Effect’;
- Free rapid tests for all supply chain workers; and
- Mandatory consultation on policy changes with a standing supply chain committee involving unions, workers and industry groups like ARTIO.
Recent knee-jerk political decisions made without consultation have deliberately exposed hardworking families to covid, worsened the supply chain crisis, and proposed weakening truck and forklift licencing rules in Australia’s deadliest industry.
The pandemic and recent flooding have exacerbated an insecure work crisis. A TWU survey last month showed workers without leave entitlements are experiencing stress and hardship, pressuring them to work while symptomatic or potentially infectious. Many truck drivers stood-down due to floods are casuals or owner-operators already on wafer thin margins and with ongoing bills.
The unions are calling for federal regulation including an independent body to create and enforce minimum standards to stop gig behemoths like Amazon from squeezing supply chains and stripping workers of rights.
Quotes from the Retail Supply Chain Alliance
TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine:
“This year has begun with absolute bedlam across our essential supply chain network. In the East, workers are at home recovering from the Federal Government’s insistence to ‘let it rip’, while in the West, North and South, workers are at home without pay because of major flooding. This is happening because the Morrison Government has habitually ignored warnings from workers and industry. Critical supply chain workers need secure jobs, free RATs, and a seat at the table to make sure hair-brained decisions by politicians won’t make their challenging jobs even more difficult.
“A health crisis and a natural disaster easily become an economic catastrophe when jobs are casualised, misclassified and insecure. Scott Morrison needs to step up and rein in gig behemoths like Amazon undercutting decent transport companies by exploiting workers beyond belief,” he said.
SDA National Secretary Gerard Dwyer:
“The spotlight is on supply chains, but none of the right solutions are coming from our nation’s leaders. It is long overdue for the Morrison Government to listen to experts in the industry – those that work in it day in day out – and put in place robust safeguards so we don’t end up back here with the next variant or natural disaster,” he said.
AWU National Secretary Daniel Walton:
“It is no wonder that supply chains are such a mess when workers growing and picking the food are in insecure, dependent working arrangements deliberately and overtly exploited on the government’s watch. Today we are setting out the guiding principles that are needed to move the crops from Australian soil to the shelves of our supermarkets. What we’re asking is logical and will benefit every person in this country,” he said.
On Friday, the TWU wrote to the Prime Minister calling for urgent financial support for stood down transport workers caught up in recent floods.