On the Picket Line

Truck drivers in Australia win gains, FedEx bosses hold out

By Bob Aiken
December 13, 2021

SYDNEY — FedEx drivers in New South Wales and Western Australia took part in a four-hour protest strike Nov. 22, joining other truckers across the country fighting for a pay raise to meet growing inflation and to limit the big increase of work contracted out by the bosses.

The stoppage was just one of a series of rolling strikes the Transport Workers Union planned. FedEx bosses responded with a two-day lockout.

Drivers from several companies have staged a series of protest strikes, including during the government’s pandemic lockdowns. The union reached a settlement with Toll and other major trucking companies in October. These strikes were the first ever at Toll, and the first by truckers anywhere since 2010.

They said Toll had planned to hire contractors at up to 30% below union pay. The new union agreement with Toll and several other companies places limits on outsourcing, gives employees first preference over all available work, and sets the same pay rate for outside hires that direct employees get.

StarTrack, which is owned by Australia Post and had increased contracting out by some 70%, agreed to a similar deal Nov. 15.

The union canceled the next round of protest strikes against FedEx, but said the bosses’ lockout meant it could now legally take action at any time. Previously they had to give three days notice.

FedEx has offered a pay raise of 9.25% over three years. Transport Workers Union National Secretary Michael Kaine described this as “a disingenuous swindle.” By refusing to backdate the wage increase to 2020,  when the last contract ran out, the company offer would be well below the rate of inflation.