Strike action brewing at StarTrack

TWU cites job security concerns behind majority percentage strike vote

Strike action brewing at StarTrack
StarTrack workers are seeking job security guarantees, the union said


The Transport Workers Union (TWU) has reported that StarTrack workers have voted overwhelmingly in favour of taking strike action if the company refuses to oblige on a range of issues.

These include providing job security guarantees including the same pay and conditions for labour hire workers, caps on the use of lower paid outside hire, and offering work to employees before it is contracted out.

The 90 per cent vote to take action provides protection under the Fair Work Act for approximately 2000 StarTrack TWU members – almost 70 per cent of the total workforce – to go on strike.

It comes as negotiations over workplace agreements at several major transport operators mounted attacks on good, secure jobs, forcing thousands of workers to pursue the right to take industrial action.

A protected action ballot opened at Linfox on September 10 and another began at Bevchain on September 8. FedEx workers are currently voting, until 5pm, Friday, September 17.

According to the TWU, the attacks on job security coincide with a rise in work being contracted out to lower-paid workers.

StarTrack outside hire volumes have jumped to 70 per cent of the total workforce in yards in SA and 50 per cent in Queensland and Canberra, while only one in every eight workers servicing air freight in WA is a direct employee.

TWU recently launched legal action against StarTrack and labour hire company APS Transport over the alleged unfair sacking of Kim White after she queried a drop in her pay.

The union reported that White was told in an email that StarTrack notified APS this year that it wanted workers to revert back to Award conditions for all sites rather than their enterprise agreement. 

TWU national secretary Michael Kaine congratulated workers on taking a stand.

"StarTrack workers have their eyes wide open to the game being played with their livelihoods," Kaine said.

"At the same time as the company floods yards with contractors with fewer rights, it refuses the crucial job security guarantees employees deserve.

"Workers have no choice but to fight for their jobs and they’ve sent that message through a strong vote for the right to go on strike.

"The ball is in StarTrack’s court and we implore the major transport operator to act responsibly." 

Read how Toll responded to being in the TWU firing line, here

The TWU has called on the federal government to urgently implement the recommendations of the recent Senate report on the industry to establish "an independent body" to "set universal, binding standards" in road transport.

The union belives regulation of this sort would eliminate gig economy models of exploitation at the likes of AmazonFlex and Uber, which it sees as pressuring transport operators to slash the pay and conditions of their employees.

"Transport has become a boom-and-bust industry," Kaine said.

"While demand has surged, good, secure jobs are in steep decline under pressure from unregulated, exploitative business models like AmazonFlex.

"Transport operators are scrambling to compete but no matter how deep the cut to their workforces, they will not win the race to the bottom.

"The solution is sitting on a Parliament shelf. A regulatory body to set minimum, binding standards in transport will protect workers, businesses and the economy.

"It will make Australia’s deadliest industry safer and more sustainable. It’s time to act."


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