Around 2,000 StarTrack have walked off the job today after a strike was approved by the Fair Work Commission (FWC) yesterday, impacting the company’s delivery services for 24 hours until midnight tonight.
In conjunction, the Transport Workers Union (TWU) today announced a strike of 2,000 FedEx workers will go ahead next Thursday after 97 per cent of the union's members voted in favour of the industrial action.
Today's work stoppage is in response to failed negotiations between workers and the logistics giant, in which StarTrack refused workers' calls for job security guarantees following a surge in outsourcing rates as high as 70 per cent in some yards, according to the TWU.
It comes after Australia Post-owned StarTrack went to the FWC to thwart the strike on the basis it might impact deliveries of medication and vaccines but was unable to prove that deliveries of the essential goods would be stopped by the industrial action.
FWC’s Commissioner Cambridge acknowledged “there is a fundamental understanding in the industry going back decades” that the TWU has always ensured medical supplies – such as organs for critical surgery – continue unimpeded throughout any industrial action.
“We’re pleased the Fair Work Commission has approved this action, recognising that StarTrack’s attempt to block workers exercising their rights was a deplorable tactic which lacked authenticity,” TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said.
“Had StarTrack been genuinely concerned about any impact to vaccines or medical supplies, it would have flagged this weeks ago when it opposed a protected action ballot and worked cooperatively with the Union to ensure provisions could be made, as undertaken by the TWU.
“Disguised under the cloak of COVID, StarTrack has falsely smeared Union members as irresponsible when it is threatening the jobs of its loyal workforce and exploiting the pandemic.”
The TWU says StarTrack workers want the same pay and conditions for labour hire as employees, caps on the use of outside hire, and commitments to allocate work to employees before contracting out.
"We know the national community would be ashamed that this mistreatment of workers is going on at a government-owned company enjoying record revenues off the backs of its workforce,” Kaine added.
“Transport workers right across the industry are suffering similar attacks on their livelihoods because of government inaction which has allowed transport to become a boom and bust industry.
“Demand is sky-high, but standards are at rock bottom thanks to unregulated exploitation through the likes of Uber and AmazonFlex which are smashing good, safe standards and jobs.”
StarTrack said it remained committed to delivering for all its customers during the strike period, but noted delays may occur.
“We are particularly concerned for those in vulnerable regional communities requiring essential supplies such as medicines, protective equipment and vaccines,” StarTrack said.
“StarTrack are disappointed that the TWU are taking this action during a time when the crucial supply of essential goods has never been more important, particularly given we have offered a market-leading guaranteed pay rise, reflecting the hard work of our workforce.
"StarTrack will continue to advocate for and support our staff and our communities during this difficult and uncertain time.”
FedEx workers "in the fight of their lives"
Another logistics worker strike is expected to go ahead for 24 hours next Thursday, with FedEx workers walking off the job following "sustained refusal" from the deliveries giant to guarantee job security for workers, according to the TWU.
Workers entered crisis talks with FedEx on Tuesday after a ballot of TWU members returned a resounding 97 per cent yes vote to strikes.
The TWU says talks broke down when FedEx rejected demands for caps on outside hire and for existing employees to be guaranteed work before contracting out.
Kaine said the two strikes demonstrate how deeply the insecure work crisis in the transport sector runs.
“Everywhere you look, transport workers are in the fight of their lives to stop insidious cost-cutting plans which would gut the decent jobs that thousands of workers and their families rely on," Kaine said.
“After responsibly agreeing to defer bargaining for a year, FedEx workers have been battling for job guarantees for six months and management has dismissed them at every turn.
"If FedEx had no plans to outsource work, they would have given a commitment on day one. Workers shouldn’t have been put in the position of choosing between strikes and signing a shoddy agreement which would see their jobs express shipped out to the lowest bidder."
FedEx says it is continuing to negotiate with the TWU to achieve a fair agreement, but is "disappointed" that the Union has chosen to take this step.
"We have been engaging cooperatively in negotiations with the TWU in an attempt to secure a fair wage and superannuation increase that can be passed onto our employees at the earliest opportunity. FedEx currently pays higher wage rates and superannuation when compared with many of our competitors. Our current wage increase offer is also very competitive," says FedEx.
"FedEx is committed to promoting job security for our employees, and we have agreed in our negotiations to reduce the use of outside hire where we are able. However, in the course of doing our business, we do face situations such as annual leave and peak periods where it is necessary to engage outside hire to meet our delivery commitments and provide industry-leading service to customers.
"The TWU are demanding that we increase the rates that we pay to outside hire companies. We would prefer to invest this money in our business and our employees, which is the best way we can promote job security and employment for our employees for a sustainable long-term future. We firmly believe that the best way to promote job security for our employees is through growing our business."
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