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TWU takes up owner-driver cudgels on Owens agreement

Union calls for reinstatement of long-standing driver arrangement


Mainfreight’s wharf cartage subsidiary, Owens Transport, is facing Transport Workers Union (TWU) NSW industrial action.

TWU NSW charges the company with refusing to negotiate following the sudden shutdown of a union-negotiated agreement that been in place for 16 years.

It claims drivers are not asking for an increase, but to maintain the agreement, however “Owens are refusing and have appeared yesterday in front of the NSW Industrial Relations Commission saying that there is nothing the commission can compel them to do”.

“Owens wants to cut the agreement that ensured surety, pay and conditions that have been in place for 16 years,” TWU NSW state secretary Richard Olsen says.

“The company is pushing for the drivers to go backwards, with individual agreements that mean drivers costs are higher, they face all the risk while Owens takes the profit from the work these drivers do.

“Transport workers at Owens have been providing a critical service during the current pandemic, a significant contributor to keeping the economy on the move moving goods from Port Botany across NSW.

“Clients serviced by Owens include Kelloggs, James Hardie and Global Direct. Their shipments will not be moving today.”  

An historical Industrial Relations Commission case involving Owens, here

The TWU explains Owens trucks are operated by 45 owner-drivers with an agreement that covers their income and supplies them with a truck in a goodwill arrangement that drivers pay back in a loan as part of the agreement.

“One driver has reported to the union that he signed into a $100,000 contract with Owens and was then informed the next day that his agreement was changing,” Richard Olsen.

“A stealthy Saturday night email in May of this year announced to drivers that things were going to get harder for them.”

Owens responded to an ATN enquiry with a terse refusal to comment.


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