SYDNEY, AAP – Thousands of workers at a major parcel delivery service have walked off the job across the country – the second courier strike in as many weeks – putting more pressure on the nation’s stretched postal system.
Deliveries will be affected after about 2500 FedEx workers began a 24-hour strike at midnight over job security
The action follows a walkout by up to 2000 StarTrack employees last week with workers at both companies taking action to stop what the union claims is the outsourcing of work to contractors and companies such as Amazon.
The Transport Workers Union says the outsourcing is causing an insecure work crisis at FedEx, with some owner-drivers currently paid around 25 per cent less to do the same work as employees.
“(FedEx) has made a net income profit of $5 billion in the last year,” national secretary Michael Kaine told reporters on Thursday outside FedEx offices.
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“And these workers are asking for what? For an assurance that the job will be here tomorrow, next week and the week after.
“That is not too much to ask.”
FedEx said while negotiations with the TWU were ongoing the decision to strike was disappointing.
The delivery company said it pays higher wage rates and superannuation in comparison to its competitors and the offer on the table was equally competitive.
FedEx has agreed to reduce outside hire where possible but said the TWU’s demand for an increase in rates for external companies would not benefit their employees and job security.
Amazon, meanwhile, denied the union’s claims about outsourcing, arguing through a spokesperson that Amazon Flex delivery partners only service the last mile for Amazon – and only deliver Amazon orders to Amazon customers.
“Amazon Flex is designed to be a flexible, supplementary earning opportunity for everyday Australians, providing them with a way to earn extra money in their spare time in an easy, accessible and reliable way,” a company statement said.
“Amazon Flex is one part of our delivery network. We continue to partner with a range of third-party carriers to move Amazon packages across our fulfilment and delivery network,” the statement said.
The union says workers want job security, caps on outside hire, for existing employees to be guaranteed work before contracting out, and for ‘same job, same pay’ provisions for outside hire as employees.
Those are assurances workers have traditionally been given and recent history has proven them essential, Mr Kaine said.
“The industrial dispute is particularly insulting after transport workers proved to be “some of the heroes of the pandemic”, he said.
Delays are inevitable as a result of the industrial action, Mr Kaine said.
Australians are already facing longer than usual wait times for deliveries, with more people shopping online while stores are closed as much of the country endures a continuing lockdown caused by the COVID-19 crisis.