Redistributive policy

Unions call for mandatory consultation on policy changes

TWU, AWU and SDA also demand job security in times of uncertainty and free RAT kits for all workers

Kaine says supply chains remain vulnerable to external shocks.

A joint statement from three labor unions called on the federal government to include worker representation in its flood response planning.

The Transport Workers Union (TWU), Australian Workers Union (AWU), and Association of Workshop, Distribution and Related Employees (SDA) have written to Transport Minister Barnaby Joyce to protect supply chains broken by external shocks and ensure worker representation in decision-making, with flood-ravaged communities cut off from essentials and chains global supply chains threatened by the situation in Ukraine.

“Unions and labor voices have been left out of the federal government’s response to the floods, though transportation, agriculture and retail workers are among the hardest hit and most important to ensuring food and essential supplies reach those in need,” a joint statement from the three corps states.

“Last month, the Retail Supply Chain Alliance brought a set of supply chain security principles to Canberra in anticipation of further natural disasters such as floods, the growing threat of war in Ukraine and future variants of Covid. .

“The lack of respite between major freight rail lines and flood-damaged highways to Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory and the current flood disaster affecting Queensland and New South Wales highlights an emergency that the government must act on.”

The alliance warns that preparation must begin now to protect essential supply chain workplaces from future Covid variants and the flu season this winter through the provision of free rapid antigen tests and plans workplace safety.

The unions recommend that the government:

  • securing jobs through regulation to guard against the ‘Amazon effect’
  • provide free rapid tests to all supply chain workers
  • focus on mandatory consultation on policy changes with a permanent supply chain committee involving unions, workers and industry groups like ARTIO.

“Recent knee-jerk policy decisions taken without consultation have deliberately exposed hard-working families to Covid and proposed to weaken lorry and forklift licensing rules in Australia’s deadliest industry.

“Unions are calling for federal regulation including an independent body to create and enforce minimum standards to prevent behemoths like Amazon from compressing supply chains, fragmenting work and reducing safety conditions, making it more difficult to crisis response,” he said.

TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said the lack of a national plan has left transport workers scrambling to pick up the pieces of supply chain chaos at great risk to their own safety.

“There has been a sharp increase in the number of fatalities in truck crashes,” Kaine says.

“Last month, we reported that a truck driver had been killed every six days since a Senate report was filed in August calling for regulatory solutions to make trucking safer.

“The recommendations have still not been recognized by the Morrison government.

“Our supply chains remain vulnerable to external shocks that will continue to come.

“Essential industries will only rebound when they are equipped to do so.

“That means workers need good safety conditions, free rapid tests to prepare for the next variant, and a say in policy changes that directly affect their work and safety.”

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