DECISION TIME: The night the Penrith City Council's rescission motion was voted down.
DECISION TIME: The night the Penrith City Council's rescission motion was voted down. Cheryl Gordon

OPINION: TWU wants the council's ear

DRIVERS are the strength of the transport industry, and the TWU is here to ensure drivers never have to drive alone down the industrial relations highway.

There are many stories I hear from TWU members who tell me that the driver is the major target for compromised safety, unfair practices, unnecessary wage cuts and more.

Too many drivers are fatigued, underpaid or simply don't make it home safely at the end of the shift.

On these issues the TWU takes a stand.

We do this at all levels, from yards to parliaments, speaking up on behalf of both owner-drivers and employee drivers, making sure they don't lose out.

We have plenty of evidence that shows that companies are forcing truck drivers into long and dangerous hours.

We know that low cost contracts are causing companies to undercut each other and the cutting point is usually the driver's income.

We know the impact this has on drivers and their families, none more so in the waste transport industry.

An ongoing fight for TWU members is working to ensure the protection of pay and conditions and the jobs for all NSW garbos who visit when the bins go out.

Around every 7-10 years, councils put out to tender the contract for garbage collection around their community.

What this means for drivers is uncertainty over how they will be paid and whether or not they keep their jobs.

Many of these drivers have made a lifelong career driving in the region.

Penrith City Council in NSW had voted to put protections in their tender which meant drivers could do the same job they do now, without loss of pay.

The tender process is often run on the lowest price principle which means companies do try and undercut each other in a race to the bottom.

If a new company wins the rights to the contract, drivers are made redundant, forced to apply again for their jobs and lose entitlements like accrued long service leave or annual leave.

Over the past few weeks, Liberal Party councillors at Penrith saw fit to try to take away the protections already offered to drivers.

Drivers could have lost up to $300 a week and their accrued leave.

They would not meet with drivers, so drivers took the message direct to the council, dumping garbage on the doorstep telling them that their idea was rubbish.

We won.

Members and their families supported by the TWU attended the council meeting which saw the Liberal councillors vote lost.

This is not the first time either, it's a fight that TWU members have won before on the NSW Central Coast and in the eastern suburbs of Sydney.

We hope that other councils are paying attention.

The TWU will continue to fight for fairness in the waste transport industry.

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