16 August, 2021
WORKERS PUSH FOR STRIKES AT STARTRACK AND FEDEX OVER JOB SECURITY BATTLES
Another 6,000 transport workers will push for industrial action after talks broke down with StarTrack and FedEx over proposed agreements which undermine job security, despite bumper profits at wealthy retailers like Amazon and Apple whose parcels they transport.
Last Friday, transport workers will file applications with the Fair Work Commission to hold a vote at each company to go on strike. If the ballots are successful and agreements have still not been met with the companies, workers could begin industrial action in the coming months in a move that would cause major disruption to parcel deliveries.
Last month, the Fair Work Commission accepted a protected action ballot for 7,000 Toll workers, with voting to have commenced on Tuesday 10th August over plans to take industrial action.
A crucial sticking point that has caused negotiations to break down across all three major transport companies has been their refusal to pay outside hire workers the same rates as direct employees for doing the same job. This causes workers to lose critical overtime hours and fear that they will be forced onto lower pay and conditions to keep their jobs in the future.
Talks have failed to reach agreement at FedEx today over the company’s refusal of job security provisions and consistent site rates for all work carried out to be paid at the same rate. Workers are also angry over the company’s attempt to remove fair dispute procedures from disciplinary matters which further threatens jobs.
In June, FedEx reported record full-year results with revenues jumping to US$84 billion and net income over US$5 billion. Workers are furious that FedEx continues to run a golf tournament with a $60 million prize while refusing workers a pay increase for the last two years.
StarTrack negotiations also collapsed last week after the company denied backpay for the high-demand 2020 year and refused to prioritise direct employees over outside hire who are paid less for doing the same work. Workers have already reported an increase in outside hire taking up overtime hours which threatens workers’ pay and conditions into the future.
StarTrack is Australia Post’s most profitable division as a result of workers’ efforts last year, with Australia Post reporting a 15.5% increase in revenue and profits of $166m in the six months to December 2020.
Transport is Australia’s deadliest industry due to high pressure and fatigue caused by the financial squeeze from wealthy retailers, manufacturers and oil companies at the top of supply chains. Since the Federal Government abolished the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal which was tasked with investigating dangerous cost cutting in supply chains, 200 truck drivers have been killed at work. Nearly 1,000 people have been killed in truck crashes overall throughout the same period.
TWU Assistant National Secretary, Nick McIntosh said if good jobs and conditions are slashed at major transport operators, the death toll from truck crashes will increase exponentially.
“Workers have sacrificed their time, energy and the safety of their families battling covid restrictions to get high volumes of parcels to our front doors. Now they’re being asked to sacrifice the safety of their future pay and conditions despite earning record profits for their companies’ wealthy clients like Amazon and Apple.
“These workers are bravely standing up for road safety across our communities. They know that the denial of job security provisions allows companies to cut costs by paying other workers less to do the same job. When pay and conditions are slashed in transport, stressed out, fatigued truck drivers are pressured to work quickly over longer hours to make ends meet. This is a growing threat right across the industry. It’s why we’ve seen a truck driver killed every 10 days since the Federal Government pulled down a tribunal tasked with addressing the slaughter brought about by unregulated corporate greed,” McIntosh said.
A TWU survey today revealed that two thirds of truck drivers are unvaccinated, with 90% not provided paid leave provisions to get their jabs. Over half of survey respondents said they’d had difficulty getting rest, a hot meal and a shower at truck stops during covid. Around one third reported being told to self-isolate in their truck, while almost half said they’ve had to spend hours queueing for covid tests.
Retailers globally have boomed since the pandemic hit with Amazon announcing profits up 224% to $US8 billion in just the last quarter. Apple said its profits have more than doubled to US$23.6 billion while Aldi’s annual revenue in 2019 was $US109 billion.
The TWU has filed claims on 50 retailers operating in Australia, demanding they lift standards to ensure fairness and safety in transport.