THIS has been a tremendous year of success for the Transport Workers' Union of New South Wales and one for which all credit must go to everyone associated with this great union.
With so many great victories this year, it's hard to narrow this column down to just a few, but by far our biggest achievement of the year had to be the passing of the Road Safety Remuneration Act 2012 (the Act) by the Gillard Government on March 20.
After 20 years of relentless campaigning, we finally achieved our goal and our persistence and determination in doing so was lauded by unionists across the globe.
On Monday, December 10, the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (the Tribunal), which was established by the Act, announced its work program for 2013, with the retail sector being at the top of its to-do list.
I welcome the Tribunal's work program and its decision to start with the retail sector, which is one of the largest abusers of our trucking industry.
With one in three trucks across Australia contracted to work for the major retailers, they have an unprecedented level of economic power over the industry, which allows them to dictate the prices, standards and conditions of our truck drivers.
In many cases, we know that drivers are faced with the choice of either having to drive unsafe hours to meet unrealistic deadlines or face the risk of losing their jobs. This is a situation which must be rectified and I am glad that the Tribunal has decided to investigate the retail sector as its first order of business.
Qantas: I am pleased to say that in our ongoing dispute with Qantas, our members won a 3% a year pay rise backdated over three years. This win includes backpay, no compulsory redundancies and the formal recognition of TWU delegates in their new union agreement, which was arbitrated by Fair Work Australia following Qantas CEO Alan Joyce's disgraceful actions in shutting down the airline on October 29, 2011.
Victory for Linxfox Drivers: More recently, we celebrated another victory when on October 26, the Full Bench of Fair Work Australia, comprising Senior Deputy President Drake, Deputy President Harrison and Commissioner Gooley, quashed a previous decision and accepted the TWU's position that Linfox drivers should be paid at the relevant shift rate during their crib breaks.
As our members were required to remain at work and available to perform tasks during their crib breaks, FWA determined that they ought to be paid at the relevant shift rate. I should note that Linfox has just announced that they will appeal this decision, however we remain confident of our prospects.
Importantly, this decision not only impacts our members at Linfox but also applies to all drivers employed under the Road Transport and Distribution Award 2010 as well as some other enterprise agreements.
On behalf of all the officials and staff at the TWU, I want to wish all readers of Big Rigs and your families a safe and happy Christmas and New Year.