20 May 2014 – Global transport unions are stepping up their support of a small group of petroleum tanker drivers in New Zealand who are battling two oil and logistics giants for a fair wage.
Tanker drivers at Toll Carriers in Whangarei, New Zealand, have been taking industrial action since May 1 over low wages and health and safety concerns.
The workers, represented by International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) affiliate FIRST Union, are the lowest paid tanker drivers for this type of work in their area. They have been bargaining with Toll since January, but the company has been unwilling to bring the workers anywhere near industry standard rates, which are in some cases $10 an hour more.
Now the ITF has come in behind these workers and is mobilising support among its 4.5 million transport worker members worldwide.
ITF president Paddy Crumlin said: “We have two hugely wealthy companies who are refusing to negotiate a fair pay deal for these workers. Hauling petroleum is dangerous work and it requires a high level of skill, but Toll NZ and BP, and the service station network it services, are treating these workers with contempt.
“It’s clear that these companies are hostile to workers coming together to get a decent wage, and hostile to industrial legislation that protects their right to organise.”
“Toll needs to move fast and get back around the bargaining table for a fair wage. But BP needs to show some leadership also and take responsibility for what happens in its supply chain. There is no excuse for Toll’s low wage rates, and BP needs to ensure workers delivering petrol to its service stations are paid a decent wage that recognises their skill.”
ITF affiliate unions, with members stretching across the world’s transport networks and supply chains, are watching this dispute closely. Representatives from FIRST Union will meet with Toll in Australia next week.
Australia’s Transport Workers Union (TWU) national secretary Tony Sheldon said: “Internationally Toll Group management have put forward a ‘One Toll’ agenda to ensure all Toll workers, no matter where in the world, have the same standards, practices and workplace values.
“It’s disappointing to see Toll NZ turning its back on this commitment and shirking responsibility to provide safe and fair conditions for drivers. Toll NZ management must look towards the success Toll and the TWU have had here in Australia by working in consultation with one another to establish a safe, fair and mutually beneficial agreement.”