WAGE BOOST OVERDUE: NSW state secretary of the TWU, Richard Olsen at the TWU Parramatta offices in western Sydney. John Feder/The Australian.
WAGE BOOST OVERDUE: NSW state secretary of the TWU, Richard Olsen at the TWU Parramatta offices in western Sydney. John Feder/The Australian.

TWU hits back at NatRoad call to freeze minimum pay rise

NOW is the time to push for a lifting of standards across transport, not a lowering of them.

That's the message from the Transport Workers' Union in response to a call from NatRoad for the Fair Work Commission to keep minimum wages at current levels.

NatRoad boss Warren Clark said member feedback was that transport companies were facing dire circumstances.

But the slump created by the coronavirus pandemic means low-paid workers across the transport industry must be given wage rises to ensure the economy can rebound from its current state, countered TWU NSW state secretary Richard Olsen.

"Many transport workers have already suffered financially, losing hours or overtime, alongside of members of their household," he said.

"Ensuring workers have money in their pockets is a vital way to boost spending and subsequently the transport industry as restrictions are lifted. The pandemic showed just how needed transport workers are. It would be a disgrace to deny them a vital boost to their award rate wages."

Submissions to the Fair Work Commission asking for a wage increase for some of the lowest paid workers on award rates could not be more relevant right now, added Mr Olsen.

"The TWU bluntly ask NatRoad to consider being part of the hope for a healthy economic future for both their member businesses and the transport workers in their yards," he said.

"Transport workers on award rates, not covered by enterprise agreements, have been subject to wage stagnancy for seven years too long."

Mr Olsen said Warren Clark and NatRoad have "prior form" when it comes to opposing wage increases for the transport workers their members employ: "The TWU believes this shows their narrow view of how the future should look for workers."

Mr Clark said NatRoad members are telling him that jobs will be even more at risk if there is a minimum-wage increase, especially at the levels sought by the ACTU and unions at a four per cent increase.

"Minimum wages have consistently risen by more than prices, particularly in the past three years," he said.

"Members tell us that they are being pressured by customers to reduce their prices or to extend their payment terms."

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