The claim demands that Aldi raises its transport contract rates and standards in order to end the pressure on drivers and operators to cut corners in safety, by forcing delays to maintenance on trucks and by pushing drivers to speed, drive long hours and skip rest breaks. It calls on Aldi to award contracts not on the basis of low cost but based on safety.
The protests took place at stores around the country, where the claim was delivered.
TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said the claim sets out how standards can be lifted in the Aldi supply chain and made safer. “We have got to make trucking safer and fairer and the way to do this is by raising standards. Too many people including truck drivers are dying because of pressure in the transport supply chain to cut corners. Profits at big retailers like Aldi are being put ahead of safety. This claim sets out how this behaviour can be addressed and how safety can be made the number one priority,” he said.
“It is time for Aldi to listen to the drivers protesting today and to hear their concerns for their own safety and the safety of others on the roads. These drivers are fed up with their mates dying on the roads, they are tired of hearing about truck crashes happening because of faulty brakes, bald tyres or drivers pushed to speed and drive long hours. Big retailers like Aldi can help change our industry and that is why we are submitting our demand in a claim today,” Kaine added.
In 2019, 60 transport workers died, a dramatic increase from 42 in 2018, according to Safe Work Australia, which shows transport continues to be Australia’s deadliest job. In the 12 months to last September, 187 people died in truck crashes, up from 170 for the previous 12 months.
Aldi drivers have for years raised safety concerns including pressure to drive long hours and safety & hygiene standards at supermarkets and distribution centres. In a series of exposés involving testimony, photos and videos, drivers have spoken out about emergency exit doors blocked, fire equipment hemmed in, chaotic food storage, filthy floors, faulty electrics, poor lighting for truck drivers delivering goods and a dangerous flooded yard outside a loading dock.
The TWU has written to Aldi about these concerns and also concerns about standards throughout the Aldi supply chain which sees drivers paid flat rates instead of appropriate award rates and allowances, as well as poor training standards. Aldi has refused to meet the TWU to discuss making its supply chain safer. Instead it is suing the union in the Federal Court to stop it and drivers from speaking out about rates and safety.
The Federal Government tore down a road safety watchdog in 2016 which was holding major retailers and manufacturers to account over safety in their supply chains, despite the Government’s own report saying it was reducing truck crashes by 28%.
The TWU has announced widespread industrial action in transport from June this year as 200 enterprise agreements covering 38,000 transport workers expire. The union is pushing to ensure accountability among powerful, wealthy companies at the top of the transport supply chain, like Aldi. The TWU has already served claims on major airports around the country to address low pay and poor safety standards.
A major agreement between the TWU and Coles has been signed which involves statements of principles to ensure safe and fair conditions for workers in the Coles supply chain and the on-demand economy. A separate charter has been signed previously with Woolworths.