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Havoc Ahead As Toll Truckies Set For Friday Strike

Aussie retailers could face a fresh logistical headache on Friday, with thousands of Toll Group truck drivers to walk off the job after crisis talks with the union broke down.

The Transport Workers Union says 94 per cent of workers voted for the industrial action, which will give around 7000 Toll employees protection under the Fair Work Act to strike for 24 hours. It follows a failure in negotiations over a new Toll enterprise agreement, with disputes still ongoing around issues such as wages, contractors, and overtime.

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine says the strike is a “last resort” from workers fearful for the future of their jobs.

Michael Kaine, TWU.

“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,” he said.

Richard Olsen, the TWU’s NSW/Qld Secretary and lead Toll negotiator, called the company’s behaviour “reprehensible”, saying it was taking no action to prevent the strike by providing workers with job security.

“The transport giant is responsible for two crises at the same time: a cruel attack on good, safe transport jobs, and mass disruption to food and fuel supplies.

“Both of these disasters would have been fixed today if Toll had taken a reasonable approach and backed down on plans to trash jobs and drag down standards in Australia’s deadliest industry,” he said.

In a media statement, Alan Beacham, president of Toll Global Express, accused the TWU of “playing politics with people’s lives and jobs” during a pandemic, saying that the action would disrupt vaccines and medical supplies – a claim the union categorically denies – but stressed that deliveries would still go ahead despite the strike.

Alan Beacham, Toll Global Express.

“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,” he said.

Toll says its workers make an average of $95,000 per year with 14.75 per cent super, with Beacham adding he agrees they deserve a pay rise and saying Toll has put a “generous offer” on the table.

“Industrial action only benefits the TWU, who like to show off in front of their union mates. It hurts employees and hurts our business.

“Let’s stop wasting time, get back to the negotiating table and sign this deal,” he said.

Toll is not the only big transport company staring down the barrel of industrial action, with around 6000 transport workers at StarTrack and FedEx set to vote on strikes over the next two weeks.

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