TWU workers continue struggle for fair agreement

TWU members taking action on October 21. Photo: Transport Workers Union/Facebook

Transport Workers Union (TWU) members at the transport company StarTrack walked off the job for 24 hours on October 21, following the company’s refusal to negotiate a fair enterprise agreement. Two thousand across the country are fighting for an agreement with job security protections and fair pay.

StarTrack, owned by Australia Post, reported record profits of $8.27 billion last financial year, during the pandemic. FedEx has also refused to negotiate a fair enterprise agreement, even after turning over about $115 billion in the same period.

Workers at six other major transport companies including Toll, Global Express and Linfox recently settled industrial disputes after they were presented with better offers. TWU delegates on October 15 have to an agreement which includes job security protections and a 15% superannuation offer.

“StarTrack expects workers to step up for an enormous Christmas period without certainty over their jobs, pay or conditions,” TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said on October 21. “That is no way to thank the workers who have generated record revenues.”

The TWU said the Toll offer includes improved job security protections, including the same pay for labour hire as employees, limits on outsourcing, a commitment to give employees first preference over all available work and improvements to consultation and auditing rights to further protect employees from work being contracted out. It includes

The in-principle agreement follows six months of negotiations and national strikes, with workers defending existing conditions and pressuring Toll to abandon plans to bring in an outside workforce on 30% less pay and fixed-term contracts.

At the beginning of the negotiations, Toll told the TWU it would have to accept: wage and super freezes; the stripping of delegates’ rights and union protections; and cuts to overtime and penalty rates.

Kaine said the in-principle agreement showed that the company was forced to back down. “This sets an important precedent for transport operators who are still denying reasonable job security protections for employees.” He said Toll workers have had to endure “mismanagement, cyber-attacks, a split of the company … and proposals to bring in an underclass of workers to undercut employees in their own yards.”

The agreements achieved by the TWU at Linfox, Global Express, ACFS and Ceva provide job security protections such as caps on outsourcing, consultation rights, as well as pay and superannuation rises.

Global Express has become the second transport company to provide 15% superannuation this year. Linfox workers will reach the same rate in July 2022.

Workers from FedEx may also take strike action on October 25, with union members giving the company until October 22 to reach an acceptable resolution.