The Transport Workers’ Union is urging Allegro the new owners of Toll Global Express to invest in the company to ensure its long-term survival in the face of gig economy entrants.
TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said the union, which represents thousands of Toll workers, is ready to work with Allegro on a plan to maximise Toll’s strength but that significant investment is vital.
“The TWU stands ready to work with Allegro to ensure Toll Express’s position as a safe, sustainable transport industry leader but this will require significant investment given that parts of the business require upgrades and reform. Just like Virgin’s new owners, the TWU will hold Allegro to account every step of the way to protect the interests of those who matter most: Toll’s customers, workers and all road users who depend on Toll operating a safe transport business,” he said.
“Allegro must urgently invest in Toll given the threat being posed by gig economy entrants such as Amazon Flex, which sees workers using their own vehicles to transport goods with few minimum standards on safety and pay. Uber Freight and Amazon’s online freight system may also be on their way to Australia and the aggressive nature of these companies and their determination to undercut and wipe out competition will require Toll to lift standards, not lower them,” he said.
In order to secure the future of Toll Global Express and its workforce, the TWU will also seek commitments on the following principles:
- Long-term commitment to rebuild the company
- Maximisation of jobs and full utilisation of the existing workforce and infrastructure
- Fair and sustainable standards across the entirety of the Toll business
- Maintenance and growth of current market share
- Commitment to regulatory reform of the transport industry
“The sale of Toll is also a timely reminder to the Federal Government of its tearing down of an independent tribunal investigating safety risks in trucking – exactly five years ago today. The ground-breaking nature of this tribunal was that it was holding wealthy retailers, manufacturers and oil companies to account to ensure that they were paying transport operators enough so that their goods could be delivered safely. Now that the check on these wealthy companies is gone we have a free-for-all in transport where the focus is on getting good transported cheaply not safely and this is costing lives on our roads. The result is transport operators delaying vital maintenance to trucks and drivers forced to speed, work long hours and skip mandatory rest breaks,” Kaine added.
In the last 5 years, 885 people have been killed across Australia in truck crashes, according to the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics. During this period 183 transport workers were killed whilst working, the highest number for any industry, according to Safe Work Australia.
A major survey of truck drivers by Monash University earlier this year revealed truck driving is also a shockingly unhealthy profession. Over 80% of drivers are overweight or obese, one in five is suffering from depression, over 70% living with chronic pain and almost a third with multiple chronic health conditions.