The ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) Congress in Sofia, Bulgaria, has today launched the global "Safe Rates and a Safe Industry- We're In, Are you?" campaign for Australian truck drivers in the Transport Workers Union (TWU).
The TWU has long campaigned for better working conditions and safer roads for Australia’s truck drivers, some of whom work for global logistics provider TNT.
Congress delegates have been asked to photograph workers holding a "Safe Rates and a Safe Industry- We're In, Are you?" sign which can then be uploaded to the TNT Facebook page: .
At an ITF meeting several weeks ago between unions and TNT, the chief executive of TNT Express, Tex Gunning, made some provocative remarks about the Australian union movement, labeling the working conditions unsustainable.
TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon, who was this week elected Road Transport chair of the ITF, said Mr Gunning demonstrated a general hostility towards Australian trade unions that is unacceptable.
“Transport work in Australia is dangerous work. Transport workers are 15 times more likely to die at work than workers in any other industry,” Mr Sheldon said.
“Coupled with an average of 330 heavy vehicle fatalities in Australia each year, it is clear that TNT transport workers in Australia do important work in difficult circumstances.
“Through their chosen union, TNT transport workers have worked hard to improve the industry and achieve safe and fair rates for the work they do.
Mr Sheldon said workers have also campaigned hard to win industry tools such as the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT) in order to achieve a level playing field in the industry and keep market competitors in line with TNT.
“We note that TNT has chosen not to support the work of the Tribunal, a world first body introduced by former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard,” he said.
ITF President Paddy Crumlin said it was nonsense that working conditions in Australia were unsustainable, given that industry revenue is projected to increase by 1.6% per annum to reach $49.68 billion by 2016-17.
“The ITF believes that Mr Gunning’s comments were provocative and actively undermine the constructive role of trade unions worldwide in TNT Express,” Mr Crumlin said.
“The ITF urges TNT to meet with the TWU as a matter of urgency, to clear up the factual inaccuracies we believe your comments reflect.”