Wollongong's Barnetts Couriers will face off against the Transport Workers Union in the Industrial Relations Commission tomorrow over claims the company is forcing drivers to sign contracts with reduced work conditions.
Nearly a dozen drivers from the Fairy Meadow depot staged a full-day stop-work this week to protest against what they say are company attempts to unfairly change their conditions.
The union says an Illawarra Barnetts driver returned from annual leave last Friday, only to be told by management that unless he signed a new, less favourable contract, he would not be able to drive his truck.
TWU official Lee Lawler said discussions with the company had proved fruitless, forcing the union to go to the commission.
"Workers are now facing the sack if they don't sign contracts," he said.
"We are all outraged at this blatantly draconian practice by the company."
The dispute had been ongoing for the past 12 months as the company had sought to change the drivers' conditions, giving them no certainty about their pay conditions, the union said.
Mr Lawler said threats to sack workers unless they signed contracts was a form of constructive dismissal.
"The company has absolutely no legal basis for this kind of practice - to say to a worker 'until you sign this, you are not getting in the truck', it's illegal," he said.
"It's duress and a form of bullying, by forcing these workers into contracts that are heavily loaded towards the company."
The company met with the union yesterday morning, negotiating interim measures so the drivers could return to work.
Mr Lawler said the union would now await the outcome in the commission tomorrow before considering other action.
"We are hoping to resolve it," he said.
"We're prepared to have further discussions but the drivers reserve their right to take action to secure fair terms and conditions."
Barnetts Couriers company representative Shaun Willis said the company had denied claims it was forcing drivers to sign contracts.
He said the company was continuing to liaise in good faith with the union to address any concerns raised by its members.
Mr Willis said a notification of dispute was filed with the commission on Tuesday.
The company said previous disputes raised by the union had been discontinued by the TWU.