JJ Richards faces TWU action over EBA

TWU wins right to ballot JJ Richards workers on industrial action, potentially leading to lengthy work stoppages

By Brad Gardner | November 16, 2010

JJ Richards faces the prospect of crippling strikes after Fair Work Australia granted the Transport Workers Union permission to ballot workers on industrial action.

The TWU is attempting to pressure JJ Richards into enterprise bargaining negotiations for NSW workers despite the waste transporter saying existing workplace conditions are adequate.

Staff will be asked if they support a combination of stoppages to secure an enterprise agreement. This includes an unlimited number of stoppages ranging in blocks of four, eight, 24 and 48 hours.

The ballot will also seek support for unlimited stoppages of work for seven days or indefinitely and bans on completing and signing customer delivery dockets and tax invoices.

"I am satisfied that the TWU has been and is genuinely trying to reach an agreement with JJR," Commissioner Greg Harrison says.

"I grant the application in the terms sought by the TWU and order accordingly."

JJ Richards questioned the actions of the TWU, saying the union may be "misusing" the enterprise bargaining process.

"The Fair Work Act does not authorise or provide for the use of industrial action to force an employer to engage in enterprise bargaining with an employee representative body such as the TWU," the company wrote in its submission to Fair Work Australia.

Furthermore, it argues industrial action is only permitted when parties are negotiating.

In a letter to the TWU on March 3 this year JJ Richards declined to enter negotiations, saying: "At this time the Company is of the belief that the Award, legislative protections and individual benefits afforded by the Company are sufficient."

However, Harrison accepted the TWU’s claims that an employer agreement is not a requirement for holding a ballot and that the ballot is simply about asking employees if they support industrial action.

The TWU is currently conducting a number of enterprise bargaining negotiations, including with Toll, Linfox and K&S Freighters.

Following a survey of its 35,000 members, the TWU wants road transporters to agree to an 8 percent pay rise over two years and a commitment to increase superannuation each year until it reaches 15 percent.

Negotiations with Air Australia Express recently broke down after the TWU did not get a response to its push for a 16 percent pay increase for workers over three years.

Fair Work Australia recently intervened in a stoush between the TWU and United Resource Management, ordering both parties to the negotiation table to resolve an enterprise bargaining dispute.

Do you support the TWU's wage demands? Are they acceptable? Leave your thoughts below or contact ATN

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