8 July 2014 – Workers at global delivery company TNT met in Amsterdam from June 24-26 to develop union-strengthening action plans and share experiences.
One issue identified by attendees for global delivery workers is the issue of subcontracting. Despite industry wide collective labour agreements being in place in many western European countries, many employers use subcontracting to evade industry standards.
Delegates heard from Alison Rudman, campaigns coordinator at Transport Workers’ Union of Australia (TWU), on how they have tackled this problem. Their Safe Rates campaign focuses on holding economically powerful clients at the top of the supply chain responsible for safe rates and conditions throughout the operators in their supply chain. This makes it difficult for employers to evade standards through subcontracting, and protects workers’ standards. Union representatives have monthly site meetings in their collective agreements, giving unions protected time to build their activist base.
Attendees also learnt more about identifying and mapping union issues. Next steps will include building a global picture of these issues.
Rudman said: “It was a great opportunity for all ITF affiliates in TNT to consider strategies for organising, especially through engaging the key clients who dictate price in the industry TNT Express operates in. It is clear from hearing from all the unions present that we face the same challenges and this meeting gave us the opportunity to share our combined experience to organise through supply chains and fight back.”
Reinier Stroo, of workshop organisers FNV Bondgenoten, found the workshop a positive experience, and was particularly inspired by the bottom-up, collaborative approach of the Argentinian delegates. Stroo also hopes that unions will send not just union representatives, but activists, to next year’s meeting.