Contributed by Adam Carlton
Last Friday, truckies walked off the job across Australia. They are angry about the move by American logistics company Toll, to casualise the jobs of a large portion of its drivers in Australia.
Toll’s revenues soared over the last year. This is not surprising, Transport is an essential industry, and under lockdowns, the demand for transporting goods has risen. Dampening this some is that the costs of transportation have been rising. This means that the gap between revenue and profit has increased. Even so, toll is far from being in difficulty.
But this does expose a reality. Toll does most of its business with the biggest retailers. These are the likes of Amazon, big supermarkets, other retail chains, and the oil companies. They have been the big winners during Covid. Profits are soaring. Not content with this, they have used pressure through the bidding system and their monopoly power, to pass on a portion of their operating costs onto those providing the transport.
This goes some way to explain why Toll wants to pay less to its workers, as the way to pass the cost along. It is the wrong approach, because it is not the fault of these workers, and it is foolish, because the problem is with the corporations it contracts with. Toll should be paying attention to them and seek support from its workers and other logistic companies.
In the face of the failure to do this, Toll truckies had good reason to strike. They delivered the message that they are not going to be squeezed, have their jobs casualised, have them turned over to a labour hire company, and find they have less pay to take home to their families. They are not going to be the sacrifice.
This is a dangerous job, and pressure for tighter deadlines and more hours of driving are a health hazard for drivers and other on the road. Already, a truckie dies every 10 days.
The system where logistics companies are forced to underbid each other in a race to the bottom must end. This requires proper regulation. The Transport Workers Union (TWU), which represents truckies across Australia, is offering to work with Toll and the other logistic companies, such as StarTrack and FedEx, to pressure the Morrison government to do this and compel the retail monopolies to pass on a better deal.
Support is contingent on ensuring proper jobs and a decent income for their drivers.
Meanwhile the union continues its campaign to win greater community support for proper regulation of the industry and the protection of jobs, wages, and conditions in the industry.
A petition is being circulated. If you agree, sign it.