United Workers Union (UWU) members across seven Toll Group distribution centres ended industrial action over wages and job security after two days on strike. On November 17, members at five sites in Victoria, one in South Australia and one in New South Wales accepted a new offer from Toll.
The deal includes a 3% wage rise each year for three years, more than 100 new permanent jobs, better union and training rights and redundancy entitlements, and a guarantee that workers moved to new distribution centres will maintain wages and redundancy provisions.
The new agreement covers all new Toll warehouses, includes a minimum starter rate of $25-an-hour at every site.
Toll provides third party logistics for big corporations, including Kmart, Nike, Optus and Mondelez. UWU national secretary Tim Kennedy said on November 18 that the dispute showed they are disconnected from reality.
“Workers, economists, politicians and even the governor of the Reserve Bank have been saying for some years that stagnating wages are hurting all of us. Meanwhile, workers at Toll were forced to take strike action for a 3% wage increase and workers at Country Road are still on strike trying to improve their wages by $1-an-hour,” Kennedy said.
Workers had been trying to bargain for more than six months. Toll had blocked measures guaranteeing workers’ current conditions in the event of contract amendments or site location changes, which are common.
Toll warehouse workers voted in October to take various forms of industrial action, including an indefinite strike.
At that time, workers rejected the company’s pay offer of between 2.25–2.5% per annum. The latest Bureau of Statistics figures puts the consumer price index at 3%.
Toll worker Narelle Young said the workers were striking for better pay “because the cost of living has gone up so much people can’t afford to live”.
“We’re also fighting for more full-time jobs for our casuals in these times of insecure work. They deserve job security. We want to move forward, not backwards, and we want the conditions we work on protected so Toll can’t just change them if they send us to another site or third party or open a new shed,” Young said.
This settlement follows an agreement reached by Transport Workers Union delivery drivers at Toll in October.