UNION PLEDGE: TWU boss Michael Kaine vows to keep pushing for safe rates, despite the setback at the polls over the weekend.
UNION PLEDGE: TWU boss Michael Kaine vows to keep pushing for safe rates, despite the setback at the polls over the weekend.

TWU puts trucking industry on notice: strikes are coming

THE Transport Workers' Union is warning of widespread industrial action next year as it steps up its fight for safer jobs for truckies and more accountability from the "wealthy companies” at the top of the supply chain.

The move will involve using the power of 200 enterprise agreements across road transport and aviation that workers have aligned to expire in 2020. The agreements, negotiated over the past five years, cover 38,000 workers directly.

The announcement will be made by TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine today at the union's National Council in Cairns, reveals an advance copy of Mr Kaine's speech.

Over the next year he said the TWU will launch the most concerted push in its history to bolster its bargaining power and put safety and fairness at the heart of the industry.

"Workers will unite right across the airports and road transport industries,” he will say in a speech to the union's leadership among the rank-and-file and elected officials.

"Baggage handlers, cabin crew, waste workers, oil tanker drivers, concrete drivers, tippers, drivers in the retail supply chain, drivers of armoured cash vans and others will come together and take action.

"Transport workers will demand sector-wide safe and fair outcomes from wealthy companies at the top of the transport supply chain, the point of economic power. We will demand the lifting of standards. We will demand secure work.

"And yes, we will strike to achieve our aims.”

This week the union will serve claims on the major airports, including at Sydney Airport's annual general meeting on Friday and during a meeting between the union and Brisbane Airport on Thursday.

Claims will also be served at later dates on companies in the road transport supply chain, with safety a critical component.

As part of its plan for reform, the union is demanding a system of Safe Rates, which would include a watchdog to hold wealthy retailers, manufacturers, oil companies and banks to account for pressure on transport to cut safety corners.

"Just because this Government has been returned on a tight margin, doesn't change the fact that it has blood on its hands. It has the blood of the drivers, the fathers, the brothers, the mothers, the sisters, the children among those killed needlessly and indiscriminately,” he will say.

Mr Kaine will call for transport to be made safer and fairer, adding: "What it requires is industry-wide standards. It demands safe rates of pay and conditions for every worker, every time. It means transport companies winning contracts because they prove they are a safe, responsible operator - not because they undercut their rivals.”

The TWU wants Safe Rates legislation to ensure regulation to lift standards for companies already operating in Australia and market entrants such as Amazon and Uber, which Mr Kaine said are aiming to drag rates, conditions and safety down further.

In an extensive pre-election interview with Big Rigs, Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Minister Michael McCormack told us the Coalition won't reintroduce the "union-dictated” Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, which he said discriminated against family-owned operators.

"The Small Business Ombudsman found no link between pay rates and road safety,” Mr McCormack told Big Rigs.

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