FedEx Australia, an arm of the American multinational delivery and logistics company, has allegedly threatened to lock out employees from their shifts in retaliation to them going on strike this week, thus escalating the dispute and risking the disruption of Christmas deliveries.
FedEx workers that are part of the Transport Workers Union in Australia will be participating in the national rolling four-hour strike, but the company has warned that any worker who walks off the job will have to forfeit the remainder of their shift, as well as the next one.
The strike comes as the company and the union butt heads over a new pay deal offered to the Australian workforce, with a pay rise of 9.25% over three years, but the TWU has demanded for a better offer, claiming that FedEx pays less than its competitors while making huge profits off of them.
Michael Kaine, the union’s national secretary, stated that FedEx’s management would rather start a brawl with its workers, which would harm the business and the customers, than consider the solution presented by the union members.
Kaine blames the ideological approach that FedEx has implemented at its American headquarters by battling out unionization efforts, compared to its competitor, UPS, which has employees belonging to Teamsters Union.
A FedEx spokeswoman stated that by taking up the action, the company hopes to discourage the strike by the union members and prevent any further disruption to its customers or to the supply chain, especially as the peak holiday season approaches in Australia.
The spokeswoman added that the TWU will be responsible for any delays in its services and deliveries, and that the union has again initiated industrial action despite having FedEx offer them an industry-leading wage increase.
Along with the pay offer, FedEx will also raise its worker’s superannuation by 13% in the next three years if the union accepts the proposal.
The union has argued that this pay offer does not take into account the pay rises that the workers have missed since the expiration of their last deal, with Kaine saying that the pay offer is a ‘disingenuous swindle’ where the annual wage rise would be barely above 2%.