The Victorian Tippers Union has threatened to go on strike, putting a hold on major government-run infrastructure projects in Melbourne unless Premier Daniel Andrews does something to combat diesel prices – putting at risk progress on the West Gate Tunnel and removal of level-crossings.
The state-funded project involves hundreds of tip-truck drivers who are paid a limited compensation for fuel use to the value of $1.40 a litre. This has not been adjusted after prices exceeded $2.00 a litre (with fears that they could rise as high as $3.00), leaving owner-drivers out of pocket for the difference.
These ‘poverty wages’ (as described by the VTU), have left owner-drivers essentially paying to go to work.
The agreed fuel reimbursement is set by the Transport Industry Council, which the Victorian Tippers Union are set to meet with urgently to avoid next Monday’s protest.
“Unlike the rest of the transport industry which is paid a fuel levy, tipper owner-drivers who are burning up to 350 litres a day are expected to absorb this cost,” said Luke McCrone, secretary for the Victorian Tippers United and sibling of high-profile Dan Andrews handler Jessie McCrone.
McCrone went on to explain how rising fuel costs are leaving workers with very little take-home pay.
“Once fuel, maintenance and repayments are factored in, owner-drivers are left with as little as $100 per day. It’s difficult to understand how a Labor government could condemn workers to building government infrastructure with poverty wages.”
The Union has three hundred of its members ready to walk off the job next Monday, which would cause great expense and embarrassment to the Daniel Andrews government.
“We expect that a prolonged stoppage will cause significant disruptions on major infrastructure projects across Melbourne. Some of these projects may grind to a halt.”