Safety at centre of TWU protests

PROTESTS: Truck drivers and members of the Transport Workers' Union protested at Aldis in Australia.
PROTESTS: Truck drivers and members of the Transport Workers' Union protested at Aldis in Australia. Contributed

STANDING in front of the supermarket giant Aldi, hundreds of drivers and TWU members around Australia joined in protest , claiming major breaches of fatigue rules and harassment for raising concerns.

The protests which were run by the Union, called on the retailer to acknowledge what is calls 'Its role in creating safety risks for truck drivers and other road users.'

A former Aldi truck driver, who wished to remain anonymous and did not participate in the protests, told Big Rigs he was harassed for his refusal to follow management's instructions when he told his superiors he was too fatigued to drive.

He said when he told them he was too fatigued to do another shift after working 15 hours, he was told he "was the one with the problem”.

"Every time I tried to talk about it, I was refused to be seen by management.

But, an Aldi Australia spokesman said despite their request for specific information about the alleged issues in the supply chain drivers were protesting, the TWU had not provided any evidence to support their claims.

"Aldi provides superior conditions of employment and is committed to the safety of our employees, contractors and the community,” he said.

"Aldi shares the TWU's goal of a safe transport industry in order to prevent truck driver deaths.

"We respect the right of the TWU to protest. Our hope is that the take peaceful action that does not cause disruption to Aldi's operations or create safety issues for our transport operators or supplier drivers.”

In a message to Aldi transport drivers in an internal video communication, Aldi Australia managing director of corporate logistics Damien Schiedel said the "notion that we would put our employees and contractors in harms way is a disgraceful accusation and utterly untrue”.

"We predict the campaign will continue to use our good name to raise attention of its messages,” Mr Schiedel said.

"As such we'll be taking appropriate measures to make sure unfounded statements are challenged to protect and maintain our reputation and our high safety standards.”

Protests were held in Adelaide, Sydney's west, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane.

The TWU demanded Aldi end it's federal court action to stop drivers protesting and speaking out about its poor safety record and low rates.

TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon, who attended the Adelaide rally, said Aldi was "running rough shod over the transport industry, putting pressure on operators and drivers through its low cost contracts to take appalling risks that endanger lives”.

"It is also trying to silence drivers and keep a lid on its dodgy practices,” he said.

Topics:  aldi protest transport workers union twu

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