The Retail Supply Chain Alliance of transport, retail and agriculture unions joined forces in Canberra today to call on MPs to endorse a bipartisan plan to fix crippled supply chains.
It follows weeks of chaos from covid and major floods “smashing worker pay and safety, and depriving Australians of vital goods”, said a joint media statement from alliance members, the Transport Workers Union (TWU), the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA), and the Australian Workers’ Union (AWU).
The alliance’s supply chain safety principles include:
- Job security commitment to regulate the gig economy and guard against the ‘Amazon Effect’
- Free rapid tests for all supply chain workers; and
- Mandatory consultation on policy changes with a standing supply chain committee involving unions, workers and industry groups like ARTIO.
The statement said the pandemic and recent flooding have exacerbated an insecure work crisis. A TWU survey last month showed workers without leave entitlements are experiencing stress and hardship, pressuring them to work while symptomatic or potentially infectious.
Many truck drivers stood-down due to floods are casuals or owner-operators already on wafer thin margins and with ongoing bills.
“This year has begun with absolute bedlam across our essential supply chain network,” said TWU national secretary Michael Kaine.
“In the east, workers are at home recovering from the federal government’s insistence to ‘let it rip’, while in the west, north and south, workers are at home without pay because of major flooding.
“This is happening because the Morrison government has habitually ignored warnings from workers and industry. Critical supply chain workers need secure jobs, free RATs, and a seat at the table to make sure hair-brained decisions by politicians won’t make their challenging jobs even more difficult.”
SDA national secretary Gerard Dwyer said the spotlight is on supply chains, but none of the right solutions are coming from our nation’s leaders.
“It is long overdue for the Morrison government to listen to experts in the industry – those that work in it day in day out – and put in place robust safeguards so we don’t end up back here with the next variant or natural disaster,” he said.
AWU national secretary Daniel Walton said the alliances guiding principles are needed to move the crops from Australian soil to the shelves of our supermarkets.
“What we’re asking is logical and will benefit every person in this country,” he said.