Australia’s online shoppers can breathe a little easier knowing that their parcels could be delivered as planned over Christmas, after the transport union resolved an almost year-long dispute with StarTrack over pay and working conditions.
On Monday, the Transport Workers Union (TWU) announced that it had reached a three-year in-principle agreement with StarTrack which could see the delivery giant’s staff paid the same as outsourced labour.
The union says the deal could include a 3% annual pay increase, with one backdated to September, “to compensate [workers] for the drawn-out negotiations”, on wages between $62,000 and $72,000.
According to reports, the union has 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.
TWU national secretary Michael 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.”
The agreement will close the book on a tumultuous 12 months for StarTrack workers, who as recently as last month were walking off the job in droves to protest the company’s heavy lean into labour hire.
The deal, if given the all-clear in a formal vote by StarTrack’s workers, would make FedEx the only major transport company operating in Australia to hold out on the union’s staunch pay negotiations, after Toll and Linfox each came to similar arrangements.
Kaine said the multinational transport giant is playing “outrageous games” with pay and working conditions, and importing “anti-worker” tactics from the US to Australia.
“This is what happens when the federal government abandons transport workers in their fight for a more secure industry,” Kaine said.
“The Prime Minister has stood idly by as an insecure work crisis caused by the likes of Amazon spreads like wildfire throughout the industry, and global juggernauts ride roughshod over workers,” he said.
“It’s been left to transport workers to fight to end this deadly, industry-wide crisis.”
Rolling strikes were set to go ahead at FedEx sites across the country last week but were deferred, the TWU said, after the company entered crisis talks with the union and allowed union representatives to access sites to engage workers for 90-minute consultations.
Strikes across the transport industry in Australia — like those seen at StarTrack and FedEx, and those in ports across Sydney and Melbourne — have accelerated the impacts of a global supply chain under tremendous amounts of pressure.
According to ABS data, Australia’s inventory-to-sales ratio, a metric that compares how much sellers have on hand to how much consumers are buying, plummeted in late-2020 and early-2021.
Freight Australia said last week that Australia is reporting a pile-up of empty shipping containers at its ports, which are leading to “excessive truck queuing delays, and inefficient movement and handling processes.”
Industrial action at Toll, Linfox, StarTrack and Bevchain — which have all either been hit with strikes, or at least threatened with them — have only exacerbated the strain, and brought its impacts closer to the homes of Australian shoppers over the last two years.