A group of TWU trained Health and Safety Reps (HSRs), working in FedEx depots across the Sydney Basin have been in dispute with the company over the “constitution” for two years.
Finally a win, TWU HSRs called in the Regulator, Comcare. Comcare has now provided an adjudication ruling that FedEx management must include a clause in their so called “constitution” that points out FedEx responsibility for compliance with WHS legislation. Such compliance includes support for HSRs exercising their powers under the WHS Act.
The constitution that FedEx put forward eroded the rights, powers and functions of HSRs in the workplace.
FedEx is a global company, operating from their Memphis Headquarters in the USA. They told managers at the NSW division of FedEx that they would be enforcing policies set globally when it came to Work Health and Safety.
One of the most concerning parts of this story is that multiple Australian managers dealt with this issue and still did not know what was required of them under Australian workplace safety laws.
FedEx also did not consult with workers, as they should have under the WHS Act. FedEx it seems is clearly confused, trying to bring in ideas that are designed for American yards and American legislation.
Under the WHS Act in NSW, any changes that may impact the health and safety of workers must be subject to consultation with workers. When the lack of worker consultation became apparent, FedEx HSRs contested the FedEx “constitution”. HSRs were concerned at the agenda set by FedEx in their “constitution” on how the WHS act that would be interpreted at FedEx sites.
Everyday TWU trained HSRs exercise their legislatively protected power to ensure safety for transport workers. It is vital that workplace health and safety representatives have the full backing of their unions, the law and the regulator to ensure workers get the protections they need.