Truck driver strike: Crisis talks between TWU and Toll fail, chaos expected

Thousands of fed up Australian truck drivers will walk off the job today causing more turmoil for the nation’s Covid-hit delivery network.

Thousands of Toll truck drivers will launch strike action on Friday after crisis talks between the transport union and the logistics giant failed to reach an agreement.

The 24-hour strike will throw a major spanner into the works of an already chaotic, Covid-hit supply chain.

The Transport Workers’ Union earlier claimed the decision to take action was made after Toll “refused to withdraw its attack on jobs, rights and entitlements at crisis talks” on Tuesday.

The move could disrupt food, fuel and parcel supplies over the weekend as 7000 drivers walk off the job.

But the TWU had promised this would not influence the supply of vaccines and essential medical goods.

The decision to strike came after months of failed talks and after a bargaining agreement collapsed. Workers are demanding more job security and better wages.

“Toll workers need guarantees that they won’t be sliced and diced Qantas-style and replaced by a cut-price, underemployed workforce,” TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said.

“They don’t want to go on strike, especially during a pandemic, but they must because they have everything to lose.”

The logistics company hit back saying it was disappointed workers were striking in the middle of the Covid crisis.

Toll’s global express division president Alan Beacham said he agreed employees deserved a pay rise.

“We’ve put a generous offer on the table and are committed to further discussion,” he said.

“Industrial action only benefits the TWU, who like to show off in front of their union mates.

“It hurts employees and hurts our business. Let’s stop wasting time, get back to the negotiating table and sign this deal.”

Speaking to Sunrise on Friday morning Mr Kaine said widespread strike action was “not something you do lightly”.

“It is very brave action,” he said.

Toll said its workers earn an average of about $95,000 a year and receive superannuation of 14.75 per cent, noting that was one of the better deals in the industry.

However Mr Kaine argued it was not about money.

“There is no doubt Toll is a company leader in road transport, but this is not about money,” he said.

“There is no point having good money conditions if you do not have a job. This is about Toll taking the high road.

“We know they were under pressure from the likes of Amazon who have created pods of workers they are exploiting and dragging down the market, but the answer is not to take the low road.”

Amazon operates within the transport industry but its drivers are contractors.

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