Transport and logistics firm Toll Holdings has rejected claims that it engaged a union buster at one of its US sites where it is trying to negotiate a new industrial agreement.
A representative of Australia's Transport Workers' Union (TWU) said at Toll's annual general meeting on Friday that at the company's operations at the port of Los Angeles in the US, some workers of central American ethnicity had been bullied by a "union buster" into not joining the US truck drivers' union (International Brotherhood of Teamsters).
The TWU representative also claimed that drivers were being compelled to drive trucks that were not roadworthy.
Toll chairman Ray Horsburgh said in reply that the annual general meeting was not the time or the place for an industrial relations debate, but Toll was always prepared to enter into meaningful discussions.
Toll managing director Brian Kruger told shareholders that the company had not engaged any union buster.
"The guy was not a union buster. He was there to assist us in making sure our employees made an informed choice about whether or not to join the union because there was a lot of misinformation out there," Mr Kruger said.
Mr Kruger said the teamsters' union had made 11 or 12 allegations against Toll to US regulators and all of them had been subsequently been dismissed or withdrawn.
"The issue of credibility is starting to be seriously questioned when you raise some of those issues," Mr Kruger told the TWU representative.
"I've been to the site numerous times. I will follow up on the allegations that you've made that vehicles were leaving in an unroadworthy condition.
"And we'll certainly follow up on the issue of people feeling that they can't raise safety concerns."
Mr Kruger said the TWU and the teamsters' union operated in very different environments, with different customers, different competitors and regulatory environments.
He said that any expectation that workers' conditions in the US and Australia could be identical were unrealistic.
"We need to have a framework that we can work within, and then make sure that the agreements that we reach are suitable for the particular areas that we are talking about," he said.
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