Logistics giant Toll has lashed out at the truck drivers’ union after talks over pay and conditions broke down.
Up to 7000 truckies walked off the job on Friday, starting a 24-hour strike which could affect the nation’s food and fuel supplies.
Earlier this week, the Transport Worker’s Union accused Toll of scrapping overtime entitlements and engaging outside drivers to compete with global companies such as Amazon Flex.
Toll said its enterprise agreement was the best in the industry and the president of its Toll Global Express businesses, Alan Beacham, has accused the TWU of refusing to compromise during negotiations.
“It is clear the union was always planning this industrial action, no matter how the negotiations were going,” he said on Friday.
“Toll will not be bullied by the union.
“We will not allow the Australian public to be held to ransom at the behest of the TWU leadership.”
Mr Beacham expected 4000 employees, who are voting TWU members, to take part in the strike, rather than the 7000 threatened by the union.
He said Toll had made contingency plans to deal with disruptions caused by the strike.
The industrial action, he said, was about the TWU using Toll as an example to bully the company’s competitors.
“Instead of attacking Toll at the top of the sector, why aren’t the TWU going after the bottom of the sector to raise the standards there,” he said.
“That is where real change needs to take place.
“Many of Toll’s competitors have enterprise agreements in place, to which the TWU is a party, at lower rates of pay and less favourable terms for their employees.”
Earlier this week, TWU national secretary Michael Kaine accused Toll of trying to imitate companies such as Amazon Flex.
Much like Uber, Amazon Flex describes its model as “you use your own vehicle to deliver packages … as a way of earning extra money”.
“It is an abomination that billionaire retailers like Amazon are smashing profit records while ripping off transport supply chains and crushing the jobs of the truck drivers who’ve risked the health of their families to deliver parcels and keep shelves stocked,” Mr Kaine said.
“Toll workers have been forced to take the last resort option to go on strike this week because their jobs are being smashed.”
While Toll said the industrial action risked disrupting medical supplies, the union said it “has never and will never disrupt medical supplies or vaccines”.
TWU state secretary Tim Dawson told Gareth Parker on 6PR Breakfast that some deliveries could be affected.
“There will be disruptions, there is no doubt about that,” Mr Dawson said on Friday morning.
“But sometimes workers have got to do, what workers have got to do.”