Second StarTrack delivery strike in month

Up to 2000 workers at StarTrack have walked off the job in a dispute over pay and conditions.
Up to 2000 workers at StarTrack have walked off the job in a dispute over pay and conditions.

Delivery workers from a major courier company are striking for the second time in a month, in a bid to force their employers back to negotiations over a pay and conditions dispute.

An industry-wide strike endorsed by union members last week has been avoided after Linfox, Global Express, Toll and BevChain reached in-principle agreements with staff.

But up to 2000 workers at StarTrack walked off the job at midnight, a week after the company was given an ultimatum to wrap up negotiations.

Workers from FedEx could also strike on Monday, with union members giving the company until the end of the week to reach a resolution.

Discussions over a new enterprise agreements at each company have now stretched past the six-month mark.

The Transport Workers Union is pushing for its members to get better job security, with limits on the use of outsourcing.

Contract workers are paid less, which the TWU says makes them more attractive to employers and creates job insecurity for permanent staff.

Strikes have already taken place in recent weeks at both StarTrack and FedEx.

The union argues meeting its demands is the least the companies can do, after profiting off the back of record demand for deliveries amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

StarTrack's owner Australia Post reported record revenues of $8.27 billion last financial year, the TWU says, while FedEx turned over about $115 billion in the same period.

"As December looms, StarTrack expects workers to step up for an enormous Christmas period without certainty over their jobs, pay or conditions," TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said in a statement.

"That is no way to thank the workers who have generated record revenues while being attacked by their employer."

Six major transport companies have provided decent proposals, Mr Kaine said, and there's no reason StarTrack and FedEx can't follow suit.

But a StarTrack spokeswoman Michelle Skehan said the union "continues to move the goalposts".

"First it claimed it was about job security, and with a largely agreed approach there, it now claims it's about pay," she said in a statement.

"This is despite repeated public statements from TWU officials that this is not a wages dispute."

StarTrack is an essential service and it cannot capitulate to a national campaign that is focused on union politics, she said.

"We strongly encourage our StarTrack team members involved in this dispute to look at the facts and not the rhetoric and accept our very fair and longer term offer and return to work to continue serving our communities and customers."

A spokeswoman for FedEx said it too has tabled an offer which improves current employee entitlements and pay, and addresses job security concerns.

"Where feasible, we have made a number of concessions to resolve approximately 90 per cent of the TWU's claims," she said.

"Given how close we are to a resolution and our willingness to come to the table with solutions, an industrial action seems unnecessary at this stage."

Australians are already facing longer than usual wait times for deliveries, with the sector bending under the pressure caused by the spike in online shopping amid months of lockdown.

Australian Associated Press