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TWU unwavering on minimum wage rise call

Union offers counter-argument to NatRoad Award freeze statement


Low-paid workers must be given a wage rise to aid a Covid-19 economic rebound, while clients at the top held accountable for rates across transport, the Transport Workers Union (TWU) says.

The call is in response to the National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) warning the Fair Work Commission (FWC) against such hikes, citing the current climate in road transport, which it characterises as suffering a demand slump with jobs at risk.

However, TWU national secretary Michael Kaine’s argument is that raising the minimum wage – thus only applying to the lowest-paid workers – addresses that demand issue by boosting consumer confidence as restrictions are lifted.

The original NatRoad statement is available here

“The pandemic showed just how essential transport workers are – it would be a disgrace to refuse them a vital boost to their wages,” Kaine says.

“It must be remembered that the national wage rise applies to the very lowest paid workers, those on the award – many of these workers have suffered financially during the pandemic.

“If they haven’t lost hours or overtime in work themselves, their partners or other earners in their household probably have. Some of the personal stories on this are simply heartbreaking.

“It makes economic sense to ensure workers can support their families and help get our economy back on track as restrictions are lifted.”

One of NatRoad’s points was its members had observed downward pressure from clients on rates and payment times, but the union says this highlights the need for a regulatory system which holds clients at the top of the transport supply chain to account.

“Many clients sitting at the top of the transport supply chain are experiencing bumper sales since the pandemic.

“Amazon for example grew its revenues by 26 per cent in the first three months in 2020.

“These wealthy clients must be held to account to ensure transport operators and drivers can operate as the pandemic abates in a safe environment, ensuring wage rates are fair and that safety is the number one priority.

“What we do not want to see is clients continuing to financially squeeze transport and using the pandemic as an excuse, resulting in much needed wage rises being deferred.”

Kaine adds that now is the time to push for a lifting of standards across transport, not a lowering of it.

“We urge all the elements of the transport industry, including NatRoad, to keep pushing for better standards,” he says.

“They have been engaged in this process, particularly under the auspices of the Senate Inquiry initiated by Senator Glenn Sterle.

“We all need to stay the course on this to ensure reform becomes a reality.” 


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