Staples sacks 45 owner-drivers in Sydney


The company allegedly fired the workers through SMS over ongoing pay dispute

Staples sacks 45 owner-drivers in Sydney
TWU NSW secretary Michael Aird blames the management for “harassing” drivers.

 

Office supply company Staples fired 45 owner-drivers over an ongoing dispute about low wages for home deliveries on Tuesday.

The workers, who were allegedly fired using phone text messages, attended the NSW Industrial Relations Commission to push for reinstatement today.

The commission's decision remains pending.

The drivers had been demanding a higher pay rate for home delivery runs for online shopping packages.

The Transport Workers Union (TWU) has condemned the company’s move and blamed the management for "harassing" drivers.

"In some cases drivers have put upwards of $130,000 into their business yet they are earning as little as $8 per hour – you can’t run a business on that and you certainly can’t support a family on that money," TWU NSW secretary Michael Aird says.

The union claims that the $130,000 figure includes a payment of $100,000 to secure the work and $30,000 for the truck.

It says that drivers are paid per parcel delivery and can deliver an average of four parcels per hour during a single run.

"Household packages are almost always in a single box and paid at $2, meaning some drivers can be earning as little as $8 per hour.

"[This is] in contrast to business deliveries where drivers can earn a much more reasonable figure as they are delivering in bulk."

Aird calls on the Turnbull Government to "stand up for these owner drivers just like he [prime minister Malcolm Turnbull] claimed to be doing last week when he abolished the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal.

"Staples had a gross international income of $5.7 billion last year and the global CEO Ronald L Sargent was paid $19.65 million – this is a company that is clearly not short of a dollar.

"What they are trying to do is import a US model of squeezing rates as low as possible, sweating drivers and sacking anyone who attempts to speak out.

"The company offered some drivers a new contract on existing rates, but in a tactic straight out of the American union-busting model, four members of the drivers committee, two of the oldest drivers and one other have not been offered jobs back. All drivers have refused the contract.

"We know that if Staples succeeds here, other major companies likes Coles will take this as a green light to push down rates and conditions across their supply chains."

Richard Manning, one of the drivers who was sacked, says he is worried about the financial future of his family.

"We are all business people so we know how a company works, but we simply can’t make ends meet on the rates paid by Staples management for home deliveries," Manning says.

"We have tried on numerous occasions to sit down with management and reach a fair solution, but they have snubbed us at every turn." 

ATN’s attempts to contact the company for a comment have failed so far.

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