Toll workers vote in favour of strike action

More than 8000 workers from Australia’s largest logistics company Toll Group could go on strike for 72 hours after voting in favour of protected industrial action.

Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) national secretary Tony Sheldon said that 85% of the votes cast supported taking protected action.

The TWU first filed documents with the Fair Work Commission in July, asking them to approve a ballot on all forms of industrial action.

Workers at over 400 yards were balloted by the Australian Electoral Commission on the type of action they wished to take, including a strike of up to 72 hours.

The TWU wants confirmation that employees of companies contracted by Toll are paid fair wages.

It is also asking Toll to guarantee it won't create separate businesses with lower pay rates and differing safety standards.

Sheldon claims the company has not been open in its negotiations.

“It’s always been our intention to reach an agreement with the company that our members can vote on, but after more than 100 hours of negotiations we still remain some distance apart,” Sheldon said.

“TWU members are seeking a fair agreement that recognises their role in the continued success of Toll and ensures that their job security, conditions and safety standards won’t be undermined.”

Sheldon said the union members would now meet to decide the size of any action taken.

“Following on from this decision, our member led-negotiation team will now meet to decide on the appropriate scope and size of industrial action in the event that the deadlock is not broken.

A spokesman for Toll has previously said the company was "extremely disappointed" the union had taken the action.

"We are extremely disappointed the union has taken this action, especially considering negotiations between Toll and the union are continuing,” he said.

"Implementing union-imposed conditions that make Toll uncompetitive in the current economic environment would be the biggest threat to job security.”

A Toll employee told LMH  today that " the majority of Toll’s employees believe the current offer Toll has on the table is fair and reasonable, and want a sensible agreement finalised as soon as possible."

Image: smh.com

Toll workers prepare to vote on strike action

More than 8000 workers from Australia’s largest logistics company Toll Group could go on strike for 72 hours after the Transport Workers Union won the right to vote on industrial action.

The TWU filed documents with the Fair Work Commission on Friday asking them to approve a ballot on all forms of industrial action. The commission granted permission for the vote yesterday.

Workers at over 400 yards will be balloted by the Australian Electoral Commission on the type o faction they wish to take, including a strike of up to 72 hours, News.com reported.

The TWU wants confirmation that employees of companies contracted by Toll are paid fair wages.

It is also asking Toll to guarantee it won't create separate businesses with lower pay rates and differing safety standards.

"Fighting for the rights and conditions of workers at Toll is part of our fight to protect the rights and conditions of every transport worker in the country," said TWU Assistant National Secretary Michael Kaine.

"Our members are prepared for this next step in this fight."

TWU negotiation team member, Rick Millich, said Toll had left the union with no option.

"It's effectively pushing us for a permission slip to contract out our jobs to unsafe, substandard operations," Millich said.

"We're ready to fight to secure Toll jobs and for our families."

A spokesman for Toll said the company was "extremely disappointed" the union had taken the action.

"We are extremely disappointed the union has taken this action, especially considering negotiations between Toll and the union are continuing,” he said.

"Implementing union-imposed conditions that make Toll uncompetitive in the current economic environment would be the biggest threat to job security.”

Votes will be taken over the next month and industrial action could begin after it is endorsed.

Transport unions, don’t blame us: Woolworths

While the trucking industry continues to attack major retailers arguing they are refusing to pay fuel levies to drivers, Woolworths has said the industry is wrongfully placing the blame on the company.

Following a union-led protest staged at Rosehill, Woolworth has issued a statement saying the Transport Workers Union (TWU)’s claim against the company was “unfounded”.

“Contrary to TWU spin, Woolworths pay appropriate national fuel levies to all its transport providers and these are reviewed on a regular basis,” it said.

“Woolworths understands that there is genuine hardship across the transport industry and it is our expectation, and our transport providers’ responsibility, that these fuel levies are passed onto any drivers who are subcontracted by our direct transport providers.”

TWU has previously stated the major retailers like Coles and Woolworths increase the costs of goods using the rising fuel costs as an excuse, yet the levy is not passed down the transport chain to the drivers.

Woolworths added it recently wrote to its major transport providers requesting their assurance that they treat their subcontractors fairly regarding the issue.

It said while the company’s transport costs have soared, its extensive management strategy has enabled it to keep the food price inflation level at 2.9 per cent, below the national figure of around four per cent.

“As a company that depends on transport, Woolworths accepts that higher fuel prices are a fact of life and is investing heavily in more efficient technologies and trialling alternative fuels.

“Innovation and best practice leadership in transport are the direct result of investments made by major businesses such as Woolworths.”

The company said the industry needs to stop playing the blame game over fuel prices, and start to collaborate.

“All sectors of the logistics industry must work together to ensure that we can meet the challenges ahead rather than unfairly placing blame on selected participants,” it said.

Interstate truckers to boycott Queensland

The Transport Workers Union (TWU) said the Queensland Government’s fuel subsidy scheme disregards interstate truck drivers and they could consider boycotting the state.

The State Government has recently announced changes to the 8-cents-per-litre deduction scheme to ensure the $540 million per annum subsidy goes directly to motorists with a Queensland driver’s licence. 

TWU state secretary Hughie Williams said while interstate truck drivers are already suffering from soaring fuel prices, they are excluded from the discount scheme.

“When they see this fuel discount that’s going to disregard interstate truckies, don’t be surprised if they simply say we won’t deliver freight to Queensland, and that could be a very serious problem,” Mr Williams told the ABC.

“Thousands of tonnes of goods and produce is being carted in and out of Queensland and those people spend many weeks of their time in Queensland.

“They’re going to get very, very annoyed and they’ve got every right to be very annoyed about it."

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