Australia’s already heaving delivery network will be further stretched after StarTrack workers went on strike on Thursday as part of rolling national stoppages in the industry orchestrated by the Transport Workers Union as it bargains for more job security.
The Australia Post-owned business said less than a third of its staff, or about 750 workers, had stopped work for the day, but it would still cause delays in deliveries, especially in Victoria.
Transport Workers Union boss Michael Kaine claims StarTrack undercounted the number of personnel on strike.Credit:Nick Moir
It comes after a strike at rival logistics firm Toll last month and will be followed by another at FedEx next Thursday. In each case, the TWU is negotiating new enterprise agreements and wants greater restrictions on the use of outsourcing. The companies say they already offer a high level of job security.
StarTrack had tried to cancel or delay the strike by appealing to the Fair Work Commission on the basis that the stoppage could delay coronavirus vaccine deliveries, however, it was knocked back. The risk of at most a day or two delay was “of very low order”, commissioner Ian Cambridge decided.
Company spokeswoman Michelle Skehan said it was bargaining in good faith, had offered a 3 per cent annual pay rise for the next three years and urged the TWU not to delay deliveries to the community.
“This same offer was recently accepted by nearly 30,000 Australia Post employees in their new EBA [enterprise bargaining agreement],” she said. Many StarTrack staff covered by the agreement are paid in the range of $62,000 to $72,000 a year.
TWU national secretary Michael Kaine accused StarTrack of misrepresenting the scale of the protests, saying the union’s delegates had seen members stopping work in droves. It counts about 2000 members at the company.
“Instead of undermining workers’ voices in the media, StarTrack management should listen to them, get back to the bargaining table and guarantee good, secure and reliable jobs,” Mr Kaine said.
The union claims outsourcing is as high as 70 per cent on some StarTrack sites and wants limits including equal pay for labour hire workers and a commitment to give work to employees first.
Some of those protections, such as a requirement to pay labour hire employees doing freight handling the same rates as regular employees, are already in StarTrack’s agreements.
Australia Post was forced to delay parcel collections earlier this month because of a boom in online shopping triggered by coronavirus lockdowns and the number of staff isolating because of contact with COVID-19 cases.
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