As thousands of Toll transport workers prepare to walk off the job at midnight tonight, the TWU is demanding the Federal Government urgently implement the recommendations of a Senate report calling for regulation of transport supply chains.
The Senate report tabled in Parliament last night recommends the Federal Government “establishes an independent body” to “set universal, binding standards” in road transport. Regulation of this sort would eliminate gig economy models of exploitation at the likes of AmazonFlex and Uber.
TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine welcomed the recommendations, adding that for an independent body to succeed, it must be genuinely industry-led and dedicated to addressing the economic, social and contracting pressures that make transport Australia’s deadliest industry.
“This comprehensive report is emphatic in its portrayal of the transport industry and the regulatory requirements to fix deep-rooted, deadly pressures in transport supply chains. The Prime Minister only needs to look at the thousands of transport workers forced to pursue strikes over an assault on good, safe jobs across Australia’s major operators to see that implementing the recommendations of the Senate report is a national priority,” he said.
Toll workers are appealing for their jobs to be protected at Toll as they prepare to strike for 24 hours tomorrow.
Workers are fighting back against Toll’s proposed workplace agreement which threatens existing jobs by creating a legacy workforce and an underclass of newly engaged workers on worse conditions, including:
- Fixed term contracts for new employees;
- Incentives for the company to contract work out to lower paid workers;
- The global right to contract to outside companies up to 50% of all Toll work in each state;
- No requirement to allocate work to permanent Toll employees before casuals and labour hire; and
- No commitment to pay direct-hire owner drivers labour rates commensurate to employees.
It is no coincidence that the attack on jobs, which is consistent across five major transport operators facing strike action, corresponds with the rise of AmazonFlex and alarm bells raised about a further ‘Uberisation’ of the freight industry.
“Federal Government inaction has empowered the likes of Amazon and Uber to introduce extreme exploitation into our economy which is bringing the transport industry to its knees.
“While Scott Morrison has been asleep at the wheel, transport workers have had no choice but to take the fight into their own hands by bravely taking industrial action to fight for their futures. They need the support of their government. Adopting Senate recommendations to establish an independent body with the power to set minimum standards will stop the likes of AmazonFlex in its tracks and ensure transport supply chains are safe, efficient and viable.
“Since a road safety tribunal was abolished by the Morrison Government in 2016, with nothing put in its place, more than 200 truck drivers and almost 1000 people have been killed in truck crashes. Deaths will rise exponentially if reliable transport jobs are outsourced to the lowest bidder. The Federal Government must put out the fire before it becomes an inferno,” Kaine said.
Threats to job security are widespread in the transport industry, with a further 6,000 transport workers due to vote on strike action at StarTrack and FedEx this week and next. Yesterday, workers applied to the Fair Work Commission for the right to vote on strike action at Linfox and Bevchain over attempts to bring in a second-tier of employees on far worse pay and conditions.
TWU strike action has never and will never disrupt medical supplies or vaccines. The TWU confirmed this in writing to Toll on 16th July and is taking measures to ensure vaccine supplies will not be disrupted tomorrow.
Other key facts:
- TWU NSW is separately suing Toll in the NSW Supreme Court for more than 5,000 late payments to owner truck drivers which could result in penalties of up to almost $52 million.
- Toll recently reported a huge jump in revenues during the pandemic, $6.3 billion from $4.7 billion in 2020. But its transport costs also ballooned highlighting the tight margins transport companies are forced to operate under by major retailers, manufacturers and oil companies through their low-cost contracts. Worker wages and benefits at Toll decreased this year also while the company has been forced to write down the sale of Toll Express to Allegro.
- Retailers globally have boomed since the pandemic hit with Amazon announcing profits up 224% to $US8 billion in just the last quarter. Bunnings’ revenue grew 24.4% to $9 billion in the six months to December 2020.
- The TWU has filed claims on 50 retailers operating in Australia demanding that they lift standards to ensure fairness and safety in transport.