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Boss–Union collusion: Toll–TWU. ICA lodges formal objection

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

In evidence to the Royal Commission into union corruption, the senior lawyer for the huge transport company, Toll, stated that Toll was paying the Transport Workers Union $50,000 a year to harass Toll’s competitors. Based on this admission, it’s reasonable to allege that Toll and the TWU are colluding for anti-competitive purposes in breach of Australia’s competition laws. Toll’s excuse (now) is that it’s doing this for safety reasons! (see letter below) Um!

The evidence is here. Explanatory articles by Robert Gottliebsen (Business Spectator) are here and here. Grace Collier (The Australian) also has two articles: here and here. The ‘deal’ was intended to be kept secret.

So far, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has done nothing to stop this—although the evidence is recent. But now the story becomes dirtier!

Toll and the TWU have applied to the ACCC for approval to ‘collectively bargain’ under competition law. The ACCC have given interim approval. We have lodged an objection.

We allege that Toll and the TWU are not fit and proper organizations. Further that they should both be investigated and prosecuted for anti-competitive behaviour including union officials and executives!

Toll says it colludes for ‘safety’ reasons

Letter published in The Australian, 19 July 2014

Dear Editor,

I was disappointed in two articles relating to Toll Holdings and the Royal Commission on Trade Union Governance published on Wednesday 16 July 2014. The language used was sensationalist and contained important inaccuracies.

The fact is Toll strongly supports high safety standards in the road transport industry. We recognise that everyone in the industry—unions, regulators and especially employers—must constantly strive to make the roads safer for our drivers and the public.  Terrible accidents and ongoing Police campaigns in recent years remind us all that some heavy vehicle operators are not putting their legislated safety obligations into practice.

This has got to stop. All reputable operators would agree that compliance with safety standards is not voluntary. While we haven’t got safety right in every instance, reputable operators like Toll welcome regulators, unions and the community generally pushing to ensure we are doing the right thing.

It was in this spirit that we partnered with the TWU under our Enterprise Agreement. Far from undermining competitiveness in the industry our approach was to try to ensure that reputable companies can compete strongly and fairly in the market. We will continue to work with industry participants who can help to raise safety and other standards and welcome constructive debate on this topic both within the industry and in the public arena.

Andrew Ethell
Toll Holdings
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