Transport workers’ union National council to push for post-pandemic reform for trucking, aviation and gig economy

Transport workers, union leaders and politicians will gather in Darwin next week for the annual TWU National Council, where the focus will be on emerging from covid-19 with a united push for reform for transport sectors which carried Australia through the pandemic.

TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine will lead the four-day event which will kick off with attendance at Darwin’s May Day march on Monday morning. From then on, the event will involve the TWU’s rank and file council along with the elected leadership making key decisions about the union’s plan of action to secure the future for transport workers. It will include major announcements regarding road transport supply chains and aviation union members.

Shadow Industrial Relations Minister Tony Burke MP will address the council on Wednesday and Shadow Transport Minister Catherine King MP will give a keynote speech on Thursday. ACTU Secretary Sally McManus will address the council on Tuesday.

On Tuesday a panel of Senators Glenn Sterle and Tony Sheldon and The Hon Daniel Mookhey MLC will speak to the preliminary findings of Senate Inquiries into safety in trucking, the future of aviation, insecure work and a NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into the gig economy.

Other attendees include TWU members and delegates, ACTU Assistant Secretary Scott Connolly, International Transport Federation Head of Sydney Scott McDine, Virgin Independent Pilots Association President John Lyons and General Manager Warwick Renton, SDA National Secretary Gerard Dwyer, AWU National Secretary Daniel Walton, ASU Assistant National Secretary Emeline Gaske and FAAA Federal Secretary Teri O’Toole.

Senior representatives from Coles and Woolworths will also be in attendance to hold discussions on safe transport supply chains.

“The last year proved – if anyone needed the proof – that transport workers are essential to our economy. Truck drivers have operated at Christmas-level demand for over 12 months to keep our shelves stocked and retailers have reaped huge profits from their hard work. But the financial squeeze on transport continues to kill truck drivers at a drastically higher rate than any other industry. Aviation workers have been on the frontline helping Australians travel to their loved ones and keeping regional tourist hubs like Darwin afloat. Airport workers suffered a fretful and uncertain year of stand downs, mass redundancies, outsourcing and numerous JobKeeper abuses from Qantas. Food delivery riders brought us the food we love while we stayed home, in many cases the only lifeline for restaurants teetering on the brink. Tragically, five riders were killed in just two months last year, leaving families destitute without access to workers’ compensation.

“The Australian community is reeling from a chaotic and difficult year, but we emerge with a crystal-clear understanding that the transport industry needs reform. The TWU National Council will announce a plan to tackle the race to the bottom in transport supply chains which causes hundreds of lives to be lost on our roads every single year.

“The Council is thrilled to meet in the Northern Territory this year, a vibrant community of vast distances that relies heavily on a safe, efficient and sustainable transport industry and which is home to the largest transport vehicles in the country,” said TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine.

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