TWU puts wages and super at top of agenda

Trucking companies hit with higher wage and superannuation claims, as TWU calls for better treatment of owner-drivers

TWU puts wages and super at top of agenda
TWU puts wages and super at top of agenda
By Brad Gardner | November 11, 2010

Trucking operators will be hit with higher wage and superannuation claims and a demand from the Transport Workers Union for owner-drivers to receive better pay and conditions.

TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon says the union’s 35,000-strong membership has issued a list of claims to some of the nation’s largest carriers as negotiations begin on new enterprise bargaining agreements.

Sheldon says members want an 8 percent pay rise over two years and a commitment by employers to increase superannuation to 15 percent.

"The general claim is at least 4 percent per year over the next two years on wages, 1 percent a year over the life of the agreement for the next two years for superannuation plus a commitment to pay 1 percent a year until we get to 15 percent," Sheldon says.

Companies will also be pressured to extend the rights of employees to owner-drivers and labour hire staff.

Sheldon says labour hire staff are getting paid up to $250 less than employees each week, while owner-drivers can be up to $1000 worse off.

"There is not one company that doesn’t have those sorts of disparities somewhere in their operation," he says.

"Everyone should get the same rate of pay and conditions for doing the same amount of work."

The TWU is currently negotiating enterprise agreements with the likes of TNT, Toll, Linfox, Booths, K&S Freighters and Startrack Express.

Sheldon’s comments come as the TWU threatens industrial action against Australian Air Express over wages and conditions.

"We’ve been calling on them to come to the table and properly negotiate and to date they have failed to," he says.

In an address to the Ai Group’s national conference last month, Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) secretary Jeff Lawrence said unions were justified in pursuing higher wages and that employers could afford it.

"It’s clear that the Australian economy has emerged from the global recession in a better position than almost any other developed nation," Lawrence told the conference.

And while the Gillard Government continues to delay the release of a discussion paper on reforming remuneration methods in the trucking industry, the TWU has vowed to continue the fight for reform.

The paper was due to be released in July in response to a National Transport Commission (NTC) study that found a link between rates of pay and safety.

It found truck drivers struggled to secure a sustainable wage and also criticised incentive-based payments such as the cents per kilometre rate.

ATN has repeatedly contacted the office of Workplace Relations Minister Chris Evans on when the paper will be released, but it is yet to receive a response.

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