TWU and Aldi in court battle
THE TRANSPORT Workers Union (TWU) is continuing its campaign against cut-price supermarket chain Aldi for what it says are safety concerns arising from drivers’ lowcost contracts.
Its latest protest, which was held on August 24 outside the Mt Druitt Aldi store in western Sydney, attracted more than 500 truck drivers and TWU members.
TWU representatives say the supermarket chain pressures drivers into unsafe practices to meet tight deadlines, potentially resulting in fatigue law breaches and speeding.
The protest follows a recent Federal Court rejection of Aldi’s bid for an injunction to stop drivers protesting and stopping them from revealing information about rates and conditions in its supply chain.
Aldi, however, told the Federal Court on August 29 that it wanted to pursue the case.
“Aldi is trying to use bullying tactics to silence truck drivers and their supporters in highlighting the problems with safety in the Aldi supply chain. But drivers will not give up,” says TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon.
“They have the right to demand safe workplaces, safe roads and fair conditions.
“Wealthy retailers must take responsibility for their low-cost transport contracts which see truck drivers under pressure to cut safety corners by driving long hours, speeding and skipping their mandatory rest breaks.
“This pressure is literally killing people on our roads.” Earlier, an Aldi spokesperson told
Owner//Driver that the supermarket chain denies claims made about pressure placed on drivers, and ensures they’re compliant across their transport operations.
“Aldi strongly denies any suggestion that we place pressure on transport companies or truck drivers to operate unsafely,” the spokesperson said.
“Aldi participates in the National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme (NHVAS) and our maintenance and fatigue management programs for our fleet and drivers operate in accordance with this Scheme.
“We closely monitor the transport function and conduct a comprehensive annual audit as required under the NHVAS to ensure compliance in every aspect of our operation.
“We value our employees and pride ourselves on paying our staff well.”
Aldi is separately appealing a Federal Court decision, which the TWU says struck down a bogus enterprise agreement voted on by two members of staff. The TWU says the agreement denied minimum award rates and classified drivers of large trucks as store workers.
Truck driver and former Australian Trucking Association councillor Frank Black, who attended an Aldi protest in Adelaide on August 16, says drivers felt they had no choice but to publicly highlight problems in Aldi’s supply chain.
“What have Aldi got to hide? They need to stop trying to silence drivers and come to the table and talk about safety,” Black says.
Tony Sheldon has accused Aldi of bullying tactics to silence truck drivers