Thousands of parcels are expected to be held up as workers from three major delivery companies walk off the job this week.
Aussies can expect further delays to their online shopping as workers from three of Australia’s biggest delivery companies are expected to strike for 24 hours on Thursday, which could hold up thousands of parcels as well as booze.
The walkout comes amid demands from the union for better pay, job security and a limit on outsourcing work.
Staff from Australia Post subsidiary StarTrack, international giant FedEx and transport company BevChain are taking part in the strike.
It comes as the country’s delivery network deals with unprecedented demand for online shopping as a result of lockdowns, which has forced Australia Post to pause parcel deliveries twice due to Christmas-like volumes inundating its networks.
The Transport Workers Union (TWU) said despite six months of negotiations they had failed to come to an agreement with the three delivery companies.
Michael Kaine, national secretary at the TWU, accused StarTrack and FedEx of deliberately playing games with workers’ lives.
“As good deals are reached locking in strong job security clauses and fair pay and super increases across major transport operators, StarTrack and FedEx are exposed as outliers persisting with their attacks on workers and trying to profit off the pandemic,” he claimed
“On the one hand, you have a government-owned company which has deliberately delayed reaching an agreement to swindle workers for as long as possible. On the other, an international union-busting juggernaut which pulled in over $US5 billion in net profit last year.
“Based on performance, these companies should have been the first to provide job security guarantees and fair pay and conditions to reflect workers’ sacrifices and efforts during the pandemic. Instead, they have pushed workers to the brink with no choice but to pursue legal industrial action to break the impasse before the Christmas surge in demand.”
The TWU has secured deals with other major transport firms including Linfox and Global Express, which included caps on outsourcing, as well as paying 15 per cent superannuation in the coming years.
Linfox has committed to working with the union to push for industry reform including the establishment of a tribunal, according the union. The agreement locks in protections including prioritising employees for all available hours and a pathway to direct employment for labour hire workers.
But a StarTrack spokesman said they had made concessions on the TWU demands, including using its own staff over contractors, as well as offering workers a 3 per cent annual pay rise for the next three years with no reductions in conditions.
“StarTrack strongly rejects that job security is under threat,” the spokesman said, adding the strike action came at a time “when the delivery of essential items has never been more important”.
The company has also committed to paying outside staff the same as its own employees, it added.
FedEx hasn’t yet commented on the latest round of strike action, but previously said it has contingency plans to minimise disruption and had committed to reducing outside hire where possible.
The international delivery giant had already made an offer that improved current employee entitlements and included a fair wage and superannuation increase, a spokeswoman said.
“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,” she noted.
In August, Australia Post reported record revenues to $8.27 billion and a profit before tax of $100.7 million. StarTrack is the group’s most profitable arm, according to the TWU, with volumes up 12.1 per cent in the last year.