Truckies protest at Aldi over safety standards

Hundreds of transport workers gathered at Aldi stores around the country yesterday, as they called for improved safety standards from the supermarket giant.

The Transport Workers Union (TWU) staged protests in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide on Thursday, June 16.

According to the TWU, Aldi alongside 39 other major retailers, manufacturers and agricultural companies, have not responded to a claim served by transport workers calling on the retailer to sign up to improved supply chain principles.

The TWU is demanding the company meets with them to sign up to six principles designed to make their transport supply chain safer, fairer and more sustainable.

“Several other supply chain clients have responded and met with the TWU to discuss the principles, but Aldi has remained silent,” the TWU said in a statement.

“Unlike Coles and Woolworths, Aldi has previously refused to sign a charter with the TWU on supply chain accountability, and failed twice in the Federal Court to silence truck drivers speaking out on safety in Aldi’s supply chain.

Aldi has however refuted the union’s claims. “The TWU continues to make unsubstantiated and wildly inaccurate claims about the driving conditions and practices of our team, and of our driver network,” the retailer said in a statement.

“Given the seriousness of these claims, we have repeatedly sought details from the TWU so a thorough investigation can be conducted. To date, no details have been provided.

“ALDI recognises our role as a key player in the transport industry and we take proactive measures to ensure that our commitment to driver safety is consistently maintained.”

ALDI says it currently has a Safety and Corporate Responsibility Charter in place. “It outlines our expectations to comply with all applicable transport laws, and our high safety and labour standards and all participants in the supply chain are audited against this Charter annually.”

There are six principles the TWU is proposing in its claim:

  • Safety and fairness – accountability for safe, fair work throughout their supply chains
  • Transparency – over transport contracts so no worker falls through the cracks
  • Collective voice – ensuring transport workers can speak out on pay and safety
  • Education and consultation – on issues that impact workers’ pay and safety
  • Lifting industry standards – eliminating financial incentives and pressures to take risks
  • Disaster preparedness – equipping workers to safely navigate natural disasters, pandemics and other supply chain disruptions

TWU assistant national secretary Nick McIntosh said that companies like Aldi had to step up urgently and be accountable for safety in their supply chains.

“It is inexcusable that Aldi has consistently refused to act on lifting standards in its supply chain. The deadly pressure on drivers and operators is building every day, and workers will not accept silence from companies like Aldi who refuse to come to the table on safe supply chains.”

“When you’ve got wealthy clients like Aldi pushing drivers and operators to the brink, and gig giants like Amazon exploiting thousands on rock-bottom rates, it’s no wonder this industry is in crisis.

“For years, Aldi has not only ignored truck drivers speaking out on safety, but tried to take legal action against them for doing so. Workers have made it very clear today: Aldi and other behemoths must sign up to principles on decent and fair supply chains, and they must do so urgently before this industry reaches breaking point.”

The TWU added that transport workers have also committed to further protests and convoys. “For them, it’s literally a matter of life or death, with every day that Aldi refuses to act another day truck drivers and operators are under deadly pressure,” the union said.

“The Albanese government has committed to introducing reform in transport to set fair, safe and sustainable standards through the Fair Work Commission. But Aldi can step in today to ensure that its supply chains are safe, and work towards reducing the crisis in transport instead of profiting from it.”

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