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TWU flags Toll strikes starting on Friday

Enterprise bargaining agreement negotiations hit impasse


Toll Group is facing strike action involving the Transport Workers Union (TWU) at the start of what is shaping as a crucial industrial relations week for the company.

The company is in the midst of an enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) process that saw the two sides trade public blows and the union threaten NSW Supreme Court action over what it claimed were breaches of owner-driver payment terms over last Christmas.

The company responded in trenchant terms, rejecting the accusation and promising a significant legal battle and rejecting strongly other union claims related to its EBA offer.

Now the TWU has indicated strikes are likely to begin on Friday following the failure of “crisis talks”.

It says ballot gives around 7,000 transport workers protection under the Fair Work Act to walk off the job.

Toll expressed disappointment at the strike threat in the midst of the pandemic.

“It is unfortunate we’ve arrived at this point. Threatening industrial action at a time when our country is in the middle of a global pandemic is playing politics with people’s lives and jobs,” Toll Global Express president Alan Beacham said, noting that, in order to take any industrial action, the TWU must provide Toll with three-day’s notice.

“As one of the country’s biggest transport companies, we are well used to managing disruptions to our operations, from bushfires to floods to a global pandemic.

“We can assure customers their goods will be transported during any potential industrial action.”

Toll charged the union of attacking a company with the best EBA in the industry and questioned why the TWU wasn’t “going after the bottom of the sector to raise the standards there … where real change needs to take place”.

“Industrial action only benefits the TWU, who like to show off in front of their union mates,” Beacham said.

“It hurts employees and hurts our business. Let’s stop wasting time, get back to the negotiating table and sign this deal.”

Read how the union and the company traded blows earlier, here

The union lumped all the blame for the situation on the company, while  also giving Amazon and the federal government a serve

“While we implore Toll to fix this, none of it would be happening if the federal government had the right regulation in place to ensure transport supply chains are adequately funded by wealthy retailers, manufacturers and oil companies at the top,” Olsen said.

TWU NSW/Qld secretary and lead negotiator Richard Olsen pointed to the twin issues of the jobs themselves and the fuel and food distribution disruption, citing company intransigence.

TWU national secretary Michael Kaine cast the issue as one where Toll sought to head off the challenge of the gig economy in freight led by Amazon and its AmazonFlex service.

“To do nothing would be to wait like sitting ducks for the jobs they’ve skilfully done for decades to be given away to the lowest common denominator,” Kaine said.

“If workers had accepted this today, their jobs could have been contracted out moments after signing on the dotted line.

“It is an abomination that billionaire retailers like Amazon are smashing profit records while ripping off transport supply chains and crushing the jobs of the truck drivers who’ve risked the health of their families to deliver parcels and keep shelves stocked.

“Toll workers need guarantees that they won’t be sliced and diced Qantas-style and replaced by a cut-price, underemployed workforce.

“They don’t want to go on strike, especially during a pandemic, but they must because they have everything to lose.”


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