I, and also on behalf of Senator Glenn Sterle, want to make some comments this evening. The International Transport Workers Federation, the peak international body for transport unions world wide, has targeted today as Integrators Action Day. Integrator companies are those which sort, transport and distribute parcels and packages . The companies which do this work are some of the global giants of the transport game such as UPS, DHL, FedEx and TNT-names we all know.
The Transport Workers Union, the union which represents workers in those companies in Australia, is taking a leading role in Integrators Action Day. Meetings have been held in yards throughout the day, petitions have been signed and union members have been encouraging nonmembers to join their union. TWU officials will be posting photos of their activities on the TWU website so that other union members across the world can see that they are all fighting the same fight in a show of genuine international solidarity. The coordination of such activities across the world on the same day is all the more necessary as companies like FedEx and DHL extend their operations world wide. In a globalised business world, the emergence of internationally coordinated union action is essential. Teamsters Canada will be using today, Integrators Action Day, to inform members about the ITF and the union's role in the wider global trade union movement, as well as to build awareness of participating in global action in order to assist the union's activities to organise the unorganised locally. The campaign poster will be displayed at local offices and on Teamsters Canada bulletin boards at workplaces. Today, 9 November, the union will meet with Canadian members of parliament to discuss the action day and to highlight the challenges workers face world wide in trying to organise workers. As part of a long-term campaign to organise drivers and sort personnel at FedEx Ground Home Delivery, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Parcel and Small Package Division mobilised 110 local unions to distribute ITF and union materials at more than 200 FedEx ground facilities during the week of 6 November. It has started and it is working well. The union is currently organising activities to educate drivers of their rights as employees and their rights under US transportation laws. Materials distributed during this week will carry the message, 'Don't risk an accident: report hours of service violations.'
Through the International TransportWorkers Federation, members of the Canadian parliament will be speaking to Teamsters Canada today about the difficulties they face in maintaining safety in the transport industry. The GMB in Great Britain is planning to undertake a nationwide health and safety audit of every DHL workplace in order to find the 10 most identifiable hazards. Local union stewards will present a letter to local managers to explain why the union is carrying out this audit as part of their actions for the global action day. Health and safety meetings will also be held with members at each workplace on action day.
In Germany, ver.di is planning a nationwide program of activities on the day for workers in the four integrator companies. In Germany those are UPS, DHL, FedEx and TNT. These activities include workshop meetings, submission of objectives and demands to management, press conferences and leafleting.
In India, union members at DHL, where the ability of union officials to exercise their right of entry has been inhibited, are holding meetings to discuss their ability to fight for their right to union representation and are holding demonstrations outside DHL offices. The objectives of the Communication and Transport Workers Union of Zanzibar in Tanzania on the action day are to organise and recruit new members and to raise awareness on trade union issues, particularly on the issue of HIV-AIDS at workplaces-linking industrial work, rights at work and social justice issues with the real issues of health in that area. The union will target unorganised workers at several companies and organisations including the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority, the Tanzania Post Corporation and private charter flight companies. On 9 November the union will hold an awareness meeting at Zanzibar International Airport.
The integrators are, by and large, multinationals. Their market share is increasing each year. As international trade and globalised markets become the norm, packages are flying across the world at an unheard of rate. As transport unions across the world increasingly deal with the same companies, the exact same issues arise for working people across the world.
Interestingly, there are two issues that seem to be at the heart of every transport worker's plight across the world: safety and the right to be active and participate in their union. Here at home in Australia we can look at our own long-distance industry to see these points clearly illustrated. Where drivers are isolated with restricted or limited bargaining capacity, lower rates forced on them by retail giants will see them more vulnerable to conditions which will force excessive driving hours and increased deaths on our roads from fatigue.
In Queensland the Transport Workers Union, under the leadership of Hughie Williams, has been fighting this battle for many years. Luckily, they have received quite strong media support, so Queenslanders can see the dangers of long hours without appropriate rest breaks and the amazing dangers that this offers for all drivers on the road. Each time the government attack workers rights to join together collectively for decent conditions, in many ways they are driving nails into another coffin. For the future safety of all Australians on our roads we must support the collective rights of transport workers to organise for decent wages and conditions, maintaining genuine safety for all workers-and, in this case, for those workers who work in the transport industry. Without this we face horrific road statistics on the main street of every city and town in Australia. Today we join in international action to mark Integrators Action Day. We respect the work and lives of men and women who work in this important industry and we strive to maintain the fight here and across the globe.
09 November, 2006