Bombers' woes make Little rethink move to rejoin Toll board

The news comes as Toll averted strike action over a new deal.

Toll Holdings' former boss, Paul Little, has walked away from plans to rejoin the transport company's board due to "other commitments" including as chairman of embattled AFL club Essendon.

Mr Little had planned to return to Toll's board a year after he stepped down as chief executive in late 2011.

But Toll said late on Tuesday that Mr Little had advised the company that "due to other commitments he is not able" to return to its board. However, he will retain his role as a member of Toll's Singapore business board.

Mr Little, who turns 66 in December, was elevated to chairman of AFL club Essendon in late July after stockbroker David Evans quit after the fallout from a supplements scandal.

The architect of the transport giant had faced opposition from some shareholders, who believed he was looking to return to Toll too soon after he had relinquished the reins to Brian Kruger.

Apart from his role at Essendon, Mr Little also has a property development company.

The news comes as Toll averted strike action after reaching an in-principle agreement on Tuesday with a key union over a new enterprise deal covering more than half the workforce.

Toll and the Transport Workers Union, which represents thousands of Toll workers, resolved a sticking point over whether to extend the agreement to all new work. While the labour agreement will only apply to existing Toll workers, the union will be involved in setting conditions for staff who work for any new business the company takes over.

The deal also includes wage rises of 15.25 per cent over four years. The in-principle agreement will now be put to the union's delegates in advance of meetings of workers at Toll's sites around the country over coming weeks.

The breakthrough comes a week after staff voted overwhelmingly in favour of legally protected strike action, which could have included work stoppages of up to 72 hours. The enterprise agreement covers about 10,000 workers at Toll.

Toll moves goods for retailers including Coles and and Woolworths and the possibility of strike action threatened to hit supply chains. Toll has also named Qantas executive Ken Ryan as a non-executive director.

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