About / History


TWU - a proud history

The Transport Workers' Union has a long and proud history – we’ve been around for well over 100 years and we intend to be around for the next century.

Back in 1848, bullock dray drivers hauling copper from Burra mines took the first industrial action of any transport workers in Australia. The issues faced by the drivers then are just the same as they are today (although most members drive more than the standard 17 miles a day).

It was the Port Adelaide carters and drivers in 1887 who really got the Union started, rapidly becoming successful and spreading the Union far and wide.

In 1938 the Union became a federal organisation and has been at the forefront of active unionism ever since.

In spite of huge technological change since the last century – the growth of the railways and interstate road transport and the rise of big transport companies, the TWU has always adapted to changing circumstances – because there is always a need to defend and extend the wages and conditions in the transport industry. 

Today your TWU is a modern union representing workers in the long-distance, general transport, owner-driver, logistics, concrete, armoured vehicle, refuse, aviation, gas and passenger transport industries.

It is this collective strength across so many industries that makes our Union a modern organisation that is a successful driving force that is dedicated in representing ordinary working Australians.


  • Employers and the Government have never just handed out better conditions.Benefits like weekends, overtime, sick leave, holidays, pensions, RDOs, redundancy and ending child labour have all been fought for and won by union members.

  • Union workplaces are safer because people aren't afraid to speak up on safety issues. International studies show that union workplaces have an injury rate 24% lower than non-union workplaces.

  • Being a union member means you can rest easy without fears you will lose your job. If you are unfairly dismissed, our legal team will back you every step of the way.

  • Transport is the most dangerous industry in Australia. Union members have access to in-house training, allowing members to build safer and stronger workplaces.

  • Your concerns are never swept under the carpet on TWU sites. The union is your voice at work.

  • The union has an experienced in-house legal team together with access to leading law firm Andersons (Halfpennys in NT) to represent you in unfair dismissals, underpayments and WorkCover claims and more.

  • Union workplace agreements mean employer superannuation contributions well above the 9.5% Government rate - which could mean hundreds of thousands of dollars!

  • The TWU is a strong, active union, campaigning on local and national issues that matter to you: superannuation, Medicare, workplace safety, pay and many, many more.