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TWU flags 'industrial chaos' for next year

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Impact of five-year enterprise agreement strategy involving 38,000 workers looms

TWU flags 'industrial chaos' for next year
Michael Kaine

 

The Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) has brushed off Labor’s election loss to promise an increased effort to realise its goals.

The union underlines that next year will see widespread industrial action as it steps up its fight for "better, safer jobs and accountability among powerful, wealthy companies at the top of the supply chain".

Speaking at the union’s national council in Cairns, TWU national secretary Michael Kaine flags that the move, five years in the making, will involve 200 enterprise agreements across road transport and aviation that "delegates and organisers have worked to align".

"Over the next year, we will launch the most concerted push in our union’s history to bolster our bargaining power and put safety and fairness at the heart of our industry," Kaine says.

"Workers will unite right across the airports and road transport industries.

"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."

Safe rates will continue to be at the centre of the union’s road-freight thrust, with the union liking up the usual suspects "at the top of the supply chain".

"We can make our industry fair," Kaine says.

"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.

"It means the top of the supply chain paying their fair share and being held to account.

"Critically, it means transport workers winning greater power."

Of the election and despite the work that went in pre-poll to gaining road freight transport confidence in, Kaine casts the Labor loss as an inconvenience rather than the main game.

"We make the industrial political because it improves the power of our membership," he says.

"If we had been banking on a Labor victory to somehow deliver wins to transport workers then we would have been fools.

"Sure, a Labor victory would make legislative reform a little more straightforward.

‘But we do not contract out worker power to any political party. We build power. We deploy it."

That said, there is a hint of the conciliatory tone adopted before the election for those elements willing to cooperate on "safety, power and dignity for transport workers".

He notes that relationships and partnerships already built would bolster its position "even under a conservative government".

Amidst reports that an emboldened Coalition government may seek reform of industry superannuation funds, Kaine foreshadowed a concerted resistance along with an effort to eject banks from the industry.

And continued resistance to the gig economy is a given, with the failure of Foodora in Australia hailed as a victory.

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