FedEx workers who strike will be locked out without pay, the company says, as it walks away from union negotiations

FedEx workers who strike will be locked out without pay, the company says, as it walks away from union negotiations
Photo: Getty
  • FedEx workers who strike this week will be locked out without pay for two shifts.
  • The delivery giant offered a pay increase of 9.25% over three years to its workers, which the union slapped down, demanding more.
  • TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said FedEx is playing “outrageous games” with pay and working conditions, importing “anti-worker” tactics from the US to Australia.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

FedEx workers who plan to strike as planned this week run the risk of being locked out of work without pay for a minimum of two shifts, after the multinational delivery giant walked away from pay negotiations.

FedEx has become the only major transport company operating in Australia to hold out on the Transport Workers Union’s staunch pay negotiations, after the union — which has more than 64,000 members — slapped down a 9.25% pay increase for workers over three years. 

ACTU secretary Sally McManus said FedEx is denying its workers the recognition they deserve for keeping the country running throughout the pandemic by holding out on giving them a share of the $18 million in profit they make each day.

“They are now refusing to share a tiny part of that with the workers who risked their health to make them these profits,” McManus said. 

“It is un-Australian to lock out workers and the ultimate sign of disrespect to the people who make this company successful. A reasonable pay rise that has already been agreed to by their competitors and better job security is the lease workers deserve,” she said.

Workers were shown signs of optimism last week when FedEx entered bargaining talks with the union, and suspended plans for rolling strikes this week. But industrial action is back on the cards, reigniting concerns over major Christmas delivery delays. 

The developments come just one week after StarTrack and Toll each shook on new workplace agreements with the union after a tumultuous 12-month negotiation period for the entire industry. 

TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said last week that FedEx is playing “outrageous games” with pay and working conditions, importing “anti-worker” tactics from the US to Australia. On Monday, he said the company needs to stop treating workers like the enemy.

“Industrial action is the only option left for workers facing a hostile international juggernaut fighting a losing battle based on warped ideology,” Kaine said. 

“The threat of being undercut and overtaken by Amazon’s exploitative and expanding delivery network is exactly why FedEx should be working with union members to protect good transport jobs,” he said. 

“FedEx needs to come back to the table, repay workers for their sacrifices and join forces to demand regulatory solutions to protect legitimate businesses working within the industrial system.”

Toll workers became the latest to secure a new deal for improved pay and working conditions last week, after it “held the line” on strike action that lasted two days. 

Union members at five Toll sites in Victoria, one in South Australia, and another in New South Wales, voted to accept a new offer from the delivery giant on Friday for a 3% pay increase over three years, 100 new permanent jobs, and improved union rights.

As part of the new deal, new starters will be guaranteed a minimum hourly wage of $25, while workers moved from one site to another will have their wages and redundancy provisions held up. 

Workers at StarTrack landed a similar, in-principle deal earlier in the week, which saw them land a 3% annual pay increase, with some backdated to September “to compensate [workers] for the drawn-out negotiations”, on wages between $62,000 and $72,000. 

According to reports, the union also secured new job security protections for StarTrack’s workers, which would force the company to ensure that its staff are offered the opportunity to work before labour is outsourced to contractors. 

Kaine said the deal is the “early Christmas present StarTrack workers deserve”, locking in job security ahead of the holiday season. 

“StarTrack workers sent senior management a strong message through their brave national actions, and we welcome the company coming back to the bargaining table constructively to reach a settlement,” Kaine said. 

“We hope this agreement signals a new era of cooperation with StarTrack workers moving forward, which has been missing from the company for some time.”