ACCC proposes to authorise collective bargaining by owner driver members of TWU with Toll in South Australia

4 December 2015

The Australia Competition and Consumer Commission is proposing to authorise the Transport Workers Union (TWU) and its owner-driver members in the Adelaide area to bargain as a group with Toll Transport (Toll) for freight-courier contracts.

Toll does not object to the proposed collective arrangements, which will involve about 70 of the approximately 90 self-employed drivers that currently contract with Toll in metropolitan Adelaide. As participation in the arrangements is voluntary for Toll and the TWU’s members, a collective agreement will only be reached where it is in the interest of all parties.

The ACCC has carefully considered concerns about the proposed arrangement raised by Independent Contractors Australia (ICA).

ICA considers that unions should not be able to lodge applications for authorisation for collective bargaining because they are expressly prevented from doing so under an alternative process called ‘notification’.

“The legislation does not prevent unions from lodging a collective bargaining authorisation application. Unlike collective bargaining notifications, the authorisation regime does not have limitations on who can use it and in what circumstances it can be used,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

ICA was also concerned that the TWU and Toll are not fit and proper organisations to be granted authority to collectively bargain, in light of testimony given to the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption. ICA’s concerns included that the TWU created arrangements with some companies and then sought to enforce them on others.

“The proposed authorisation is limited to voluntary negotiations to establish new courier contracts at Toll’s South Australian depots. Any attempt by TWU’s SA members to collectively negotiate with organisations other than Toll is beyond the scope of the proposed authorisation,” Mr Sims said.

The ACCC has also granted interim authorisation for the union and its members to start negotiations with Toll, on the basis that no contracts would be entered into until the ACCC issues its final determination.

The ACCC is seeking submissions on its draft determination before making a final decision.

Authorisation provides statutory protection from court action for conduct that might otherwise raise concerns under the competition provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth). Broadly, the ACCC may grant an authorisation when it is satisfied that the public benefit from the conduct outweighs any public detriment.

Further information about the application for authorisation is available on the ACCC’s public register.


Release number: 
MR 243/15
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