ITF has TNT in its sights after Sheldon appointment

Global union now has two Australians in powerful positions as it eyes trucking initiative

ITF has TNT in its sights after Sheldon appointment
Tony Sheldon says safe rates to go global


After an exercise three years ago involving the Teamsters and Toll, the Transport Workers Union’s (TWU) internationalisation of its trucking pay rates campaign may now have TNT as a target.

The development comes as TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon says he plans to use his appointment as the road transport president of the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) to extend the TWU’s safe rates agenda globally.

The ITF has a strong Australian impetus, counting Maritime Union of Australia national secretary Paddy Crumlin as its president, and Toll and TNT have strong Australian connections.

Both men took a swipe at TNT Express CEO Tex Gunning, with Sheldon alleging Gunning had "demonstrated a general hostility towards Australian trade unions that is unacceptable" during a recent meeting with the ITF.

Crumlin says it is nonsense that working conditions in Australia were unsustainable, given that industry revenue is projected to increase by 1.6 per cent a year  to reach $49.68 billion by 2016-17.

"The ITF believes that Mr Gunning’s comments were provocative and actively undermine the constructive role of trade unions worldwide in TNT Express," Crumlin says.

"The ITF urges TNT to meet with the TWU as a matter of urgency, to clear up the factual inaccuracies we believe your comments reflect."

The ITF used this year’s congress – currently underway in Bulgaria – to appoint Sheldon to the position, which involves linking up with trade unions across the world to organise campaigns.

"We are taking the TWU’s safe rates campaign global," Sheldon, who is also the vice president of the Australian Labor Party, says.

"We must target the real employers in our industry. Often it’s not transport firms calling the shots."

"Our safe rates campaign holds big retailers responsible for truck drivers’ working conditions. Now we need to target the lead industry players globally."

The TWU’s safe rates campaign in Australia culminated in the creation of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT), which has the power to set rates and conditions for contractor and employee drivers.

TWU president Ray Wyatt says Sheldon will us his ITF role to work closely with unions across the world to give truck drivers a powerful voice on the international stage.

He says global supply chains and the transnational nature of many transport companies require a coordinated global response from trade unions.

NSW truck driver and TWU member Mark Trevillion says drivers throughout the world have the same issues with safety, client pressure and danger that drivers face in Australia.

"Some drive for the same big transport companies that we do and cart for the same international clients that we have here," he says.

The ITF is a global organisation representing more than 4.5 million transport workers in 700 trade unions in more than 150 countries worldwide.

The federation’s congress is its supreme decision making event and where affiliated trade unions are able to decide the course the organisation will take over the next four years

ATN was awaiting a response from TNT at deadline today.

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