10 TWU activists arrested in protest at a Paramatta Coles
POLICE have arrested 10 TWU activists some of which were truckies during a peaceful demonstration at a Coles store in Parramatta.
The protest was one of three rallies held around Australia today ahead of parent company Wesfarmers annual general meeting.
Those arrested were charged with trespassing and fined $350 and subsequently released.
The rallies are the latest action taken in the long-running TWU vs Coles fight over truck-related crashes.
The TWU is urging Wesfarmers shareholders to demand action to stop the deaths in truck crashes, despite Coles previously saying there are no figures to support the theory that the majority of truck fatalities involved drivers hauling for Coles.
According to the TWU, Coles' low cost contracts are forcing truck drivers to speed and drive long hours with over-loaded vehicles.
"This carnage has got to stop, said TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon.
"Coles is a multi-billion company making money off the backs of devastated families caught up in the deadly squeeze on transport. Coles have got to stop putting profit before people," he said.
Wesfarmers reported profits of $2.44 billion but while the company's growth and sales are up, the TWU say its annual accounts show it has cut freight costs by $13 million.
Lystra Tagliaferri, whose husband David died in 2011 when a fatigued truck driver veered off the road, said ahead of a rally outside the AGM in Perth she supports the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal which is examining pressure on drivers and safe pay rates.
"The big companies are responsible for what is going on," she said.
But Coles has hit back saying they have repeatedly reached out to the TWU leadership to discuss the issues they have raised, but they appear more interested in running a campaign to boost their membership and gain media attention than having a genuine dialogue on safety with Coles.
"Coles does not employ any truck drivers. It contracts the services of market-leading logistics providers such as Toll and Linfox. Like Coles, these companies put enormous effort into safety measures for their employees and employee safety is their priority," a spokesperson said.
"Coles is a signatory to the voluntary Retail Logistics Supply Chain Code of Conduct, which sets out our commitment to safe operating procedures, and Coles ensures its suppliers and contractors are aware of and understand the Code."
"We would ask the TWU why they don't want to discuss genuine measures to improve safety on the roads but instead concentrate their efforts on signing up new members through a media campaign."