Aldi can help set new industry benchmark, says union

Earlier this month, hundreds of transport workers, their supporters, and Transport Workers Union (TWU) members marched on Aldi in Perth.

Truckies there served the company a claim to become a responsible transport employer and transport client.

Aldi directly employs some truck drivers but doesn’t have a transport enterprise agreement (EA) to provide appropriate pay, conditions, and safety protections.

This leaves many of Aldi’s direct employees without the security and safeguards essential in the high-risk transport industry.

The rest of Aldi’s transport work is contracted out to operators, but unlike its competitors Coles and Woolworths, Aldi has refused to negotiate a supply chain safety charter with the TWU to ensure all transport workers it engages have safe, fair working conditions.

This refusal has significant repercussions for the safety and well-being of the drivers who deliver Aldi’s goods.

Without a supply chain safety charter, contracted drivers are often left vulnerable to exploitation, facing undue pressure to meet unrealistic deadlines, which compromises their safety and the safety of others on the road.

Safety breaches have been raised at Aldi stores, both by workers across the country and through inspections from the New South Wales safety regulator.

These breaches include crush injury and fall-from-height risks, poor traffic management, faulty equipment, and pressure to work long hours and meet tight deadlines.

Such conditions are not only unacceptable but also preventable. The persistent neglect of these safety concerns is a stark reminder of the urgent need for systemic changes in Aldi’s transport operations.

In response, the TWU is calling for a national road transport EA for employees, a supply chain safety charter for contracted-out transport work, a voice for workers, and collaboration with the transport industry to lift standards.

A national EA would standardise conditions across the board, ensuring all drivers – whether directly employed or contracted – receive fair treatment, adequate pay, and proper safety measures. A supply chain safety charter would hold all parties accountable, fostering a culture of safety and respect throughout Aldi.

In August, new laws come into effect to empower the Fair Work Commission (FWC) to set standards in transport.

We are vowing to use this new legislation to hold Aldi to account if the supermarket refuses to work with transport workers.

These new laws are a significant step forward, giving the FWC the authority to enforce higher standards and protect transport workers from exploitation and unsafe working conditions.

The time for change is now. Aldi must recognise its responsibility as a major player in the retail sector to lead by example and ensure the safety and fair treatment of all transport workers in its supply chain.

By working with the TWU and adopting comprehensive safety and employment agreements, Aldi can help set a new benchmark for the industry, proving that profitability and ethical employment practices can go hand in hand.

The TWU remains committed to fighting for these essential improvements, and we call on Aldi to join us in this crucial endeavour for the benefit of all transport workers.

  • Richard Olsen is the TWU’s NSW/Qld state secretary.

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