An overwhelming 96% of garbage drivers have voted yes to taking industrial action across Adelaide if Cleanaway continues its attacks on safe rostering, wages and entitlements, with the TWU warning the company to settle a fair deal to avoid waste chaos.
Following almost a year of protracted bargaining, the successful vote gives drivers across local government areas including City of Charles Sturt, City of Port Adelaide and City of Adelaide protections under the Fair Work Act to park up the trucks.
Cleanaway’s unreasonable bargaining approach includes winding back important rostering provisions in the existing agreement that would see workers forced the work weekends. These changes would inhibit drivers’ abilities to effectively manage fatigue and could increase the chances of serious accidents.
Seriously understaffed drivers have already reported being forced to work longer hours to cover roster gaps, with some workers denied leave because of driver shortages.
Workers are also fighting against pay offers at half the rate of inflation, prompting fears drivers will have to work longer and harder to make ends meet.
Cleanaway was recently held responsible by South Australia’s Supreme Court for a 2014 horror accident on the South Eastern Freeway that killed two motorists. The company had failed to train the driver involved and investigations into the truck found faulty brake linings that should have been repaired prior to the crash.
TWU SA/NT Secretary Ian Smith said the emphatic yes vote should be a wakeup call to Cleanaway.
“Garbage truck drivers at Cleanaway are staring down an all-out assault on good conditions and fair pay. What’s on the table now is a backwards step, winding back strong rostering rules and replacing them with a substandard system that will mean workers are driving longer for less.
‘The shameful disregard for worker safety is straight from the Cleanaway playbook. The whole industry is still haunted by the horrific scenes of the 2014 crash. Weakening fatigue management provisions will only increase the possibility of yet another tragic incident. It’s clear Cleanaway has learnt nothing’.
“Waste workers do a thankless but critical job. Increasing the extraordinary pressure on drivers and locking in wage cuts is no way to reward the workers who perform this essential service, nor is it the way to attract more drivers into the industry.
“The ball’s in Cleanaway’s court. Drivers have sent a clear message that safe working conditions are non-negotiable, and they’re prepared to take action if necessary. The company should stop playing games with the lives of garbage workers and their families and get back to the bargaining table to settle a fair agreement”.
Road transport is Australia’s deadliest industry, with sustainable rates of pay linked to safe working conditions. When transport workers – including waste workers – are underpaid, the pressure is on to make up the difference by driving longer hours, skipping breaks and working to exhaustion.