05 July 2022

Garbage truck drivers across Greater Adelaide will strike this Friday after almost a year of attacks on strong workplace protections and conditions by waste giant Cleanaway leaves them no choice but to fight back.


Cleanaway has refused to compromise on rostering changes that will adversely impact drivers’ work-life balance and undermine fatigue management, including by making weekend work compulsory. Exhausted drivers are already reporting serious safety concerns as they are forced to work longer hours to cover significant roster gaps.


Road transport is Australia’s deadliest industry, with strong links between sustainable rates of pay and safe working conditions. Cleanaway’s wage offer of only half the rate of inflation only increases the pressure on drivers who will have to work longer hours or drive tired to make up for real wage cuts.


The strike will impact residential waste collection across local government areas including the Cities of Charles Sturt, Port Adelaide Enfield, Marion and Adelaide. Commercial operators including Adelaide Airport, On The Run and the Department of Education will also be impacted.


The strike follows TWU garbage truck drivers last week returning an overwhelming 96% yes vote to taking 24 hour industrial action to break the bargaining impasse, and a warning that strike action would occur if Cleanaway refused to drop its attacks on workers. The strike will impact the collection of approximately 45,000 bins across the Greater Adelaide area.


TWU SA/NT Secretary Ian Smith said industrial action is always a last resort, but drivers had been left with no choice given Cleanaway’s refusal to listen to drivers.


“Cleanaway drivers will strike on Friday to send management a clear message that workplace safety and fair recognition for their work are non-negotiable”.


“Waste work is hard work. When the rest of the community is still asleep, waste drivers are already behind the wheel performing an essential service. They do it without complaint because they know the community is counting on them, but that doesn’t mean they should be forced to accept a shoddy deal”.


“Without effective fatigue management and fair pay to retain skilled drivers in the industry, the deadly race to the bottom will continue. Drivers will be forced to drive to exhaustion and the risk of tragic incidents on our roads will skyrocket. Stripping out strong protections will only hurt drivers, their families and the community”.


“As the economic employers engaging Cleanaway, Councils also have a responsibility here to ensure waste contracts lift standards and protect workers’ conditions. They should be hauling Cleanaway management over the coals for these unacceptable attacks”.


“Cleanaway’s forgotten that its drivers are the backbone of the company. It must drop its brazen, anti-worker tactics and get back to the bargaining table to settle a safe and fair deal with its drivers”, Smith said.


Cleanaway’s attempts to water down workplace safety follow the South Australian Supreme Court finding the company guilty for a 2014 crash on the South Eastern Freeway that killed two motorists. Cleanaway had failed to appropriately induct their driver and a crash investigator reported faulty brake lining should have been replaced prior to the incident.