A landmark deal has been struck with transport giant Toll that will see it deliver enhanced job security protections for Toll drivers, ending a months-long battle over driver rights.
The Transport Workers Union (TWU) has finalised a two-year deal that includes an industry first 15% superannuation rate and enhanced job security protections, such as the same pay for outside hires as for direct employees.
The agreement is yet to be officially endorsed by national union delegates, but was announced by the TWU this morning ahead of a meeting on Friday.
It means Toll workers will not take part in national strike action planned by the TWU against other transport companies next week.
The in-principle agreement also comes amid a Senate Job Security Inquiry occurring on Wednesday that will hear from workers at companies including Linfox, StarTrack and FedEx today.
This includes questioning around the impact of outside hiring practices by another transport company, StarTrack, which TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said have soared by up to 70% in recent years.
At negotiation meetings on Wednesday, the TWU will present settlement proposals with job security provisions that provide guarantees for workers while also allowing flexibility for companies.
The proposed agreement for Toll drivers, which expires in mid-2023, includes an initial pay rise of 2.75% and a second wage increase in line with the inflation rate up to 4%.
Kaine said in a statement the agreement includes limits on outsourcing, a commitment to give employees first preference over all available work, and improvements to consultation and auditing rights to further protect employees from their work being contracted out.
An end to months of strikes
The agreement ends six months of clashes between multi-billion dollar logistics company Toll and the TWU, which has resulted in several worker strikes.
The most recent occurred in late August when as many as 7,000 Toll workers went on strike for 24 hours after crisis talks around new proposals that would cut overtime pay and introduce low contractor wages fell apart.
The action marked the first ever strike at Toll, a subsidiary of Japan Post, and the first time since 2010 that road workers have gone on strike.
It came as Toll struggled to keep expenditure down as transport costs outstripped its revenue growth.
Alan Beacham, president of Toll’s Global Express division, told Business Insider Australia at the time the strikes risked disrupting the national vaccine rollout, an argument the TWU disputed.
Major transport companies have seen their revenues spike during the pandemic, with Toll’s annual revenue increasing by almost one third to $6.3 billion for the 12 months to June 2021.
StarTrack, Australia Post’s most profitable division, contributed to a 10.3% jump in company revenues to $8.27 billion for the same period.
Despite this, transport drivers have had to deal with stagnant wages and longer shifts, as well as lost pay due to delays at border crossings and mandatory COVID-19 testing stations.
Kaine said the deal was the result of Toll workers’ steadfast commitment to securing additional protections against attacks on job security.
“This is a major victory for Toll drivers and sets an important precedent for transport operators still denying reasonable job security protections for employees,” he said.
The TWU national secretary suggested the other transport giants follow Toll’s lead to commit to what he said were the “reasonable protections” workers were seeking.
“As Christmas draws nearer and negotiations reach their sixth month, it’s time to end the attack on jobs and prevent the need for further industrial action,” he said.