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ICA objects to ACCC authorisation on Toll-TWU talks

Royal Commission evidence basis of objection to decision to allow collective bargaining for Queensland couriers


Reaction to Toll’s admitted collusion with the Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) looks to have moved from Royal Commission evidence and media comment to an objection before the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

The Independent Contractors Australia (ICA) has taken July 3 evidence to the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption from Toll’s senior legal counsel, workplace relations and safety, Damian Sloan, as the basis of a push to scupper the granting of ACCC authorisation to the TWU to engage in collective bargaining for its Queensland owner-driver couriers.

The ACCC has issued a draft determination proposing to grant authorisation.

An ACCC spokeswoman refused to say if it has received the objection, noting its call for comment had only just been made and any submission must be scrutinised before being placed on its website.

Led by ICA executive director Ken Phillips, the submission claims: “Toll and the TWU have been involved in collusive behaviour for the purposes of harassing Toll’s competitors and as such both Toll and the TWU have jointly been engaged in anti-competitive behaviour to the detriment of the public good”.

On this basis, “both the TWU and the Toll are not fit and proper” organisations to be granted authorisation to engage in collective bargaining, the objection states.

The ICA calls on ACCC to undertake a broad investigation into the dealings between the company and the union, “with a view to possible prosecution”.

“ICA submits that the evidence shows that Toll and the TWU have used the cover of industrial relations law and arrangements to engage in anti-competitive conduct,” the submission states.

“If the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chooses not to investigate and prosecute, the ACCC should, at minimum, deny the TWU rights to engage in collective bargaining under competition law.

“Based on the evidence, ICA submits that the TWU and Toll have demonstrated that they do engage in anti-competitive behaviour in relation to employees (under industrial relations laws). On this basis it should be expected that the TWU and Toll will engage in anti-competitive behaviour if granted collective bargaining rights under competition law. The risk is too great for the ACCC to take.

“ICA believes that the ACCC should not only refuse this application by the TWU but should initiate a broad inquiry into the practices of the TWU across the entire transport sector, investigating:

  • the TWU’s relationship with transport companies,
  • which companies, if any, have ‘Toll-like’ agreements or relationships with the TWU,
  • the extent of anti-competitive conduct undertaken with, through and by the TWU,
  • whether prosecutions should be initiated against the TWU, Toll, other transport firms and including prosecution against individual TWU officials and executives of Toll and other transport firms.
  • and report on whether existing competition and other laws need to be strengthened/amended to prevent such anti-competitive behaviour.”

Toll says it is formulating a response on the reaction to evidence at the Royal Commission.



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