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WA truckies protest at Woolworths’ state head office

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Truck drivers and their supporters protested at Woolworths’ WA state head office in Kewdale yesterday over changes they say could cost them up to $300 a week, and even threaten their jobs.

TWU WA says the action is a result of the supermarket giant reducing the overtime it pays to subcontractors.

Union Branch Secretary Tim Dawson said he is appalled by Woolworths’ pay cuts after it has profited from the hard work of truck drivers during the pandemic.

“It is a disgrace that truck drivers are having $300 taken out of their weekly wages and having their jobs put at risk by a company which turned a $1.14 billion profit in just six months,” he said.

“When truck drivers are put under financial pressure this has a huge impact on safety. Drivers are forced to speed, drive long hours, and skip their mandatory rest breaks just to make ends meet.

“This is the reason behind the high number of truck crash deaths which are devastating our communities. Wealthy retailers like Woolworths must be 100 per cent certain that their entire supply chain is safe, that risks to safety can be detected and when problems arise that truck drivers can speak out about them without the fear of getting sacked.”

Coles and the TWU signed a charter in December on standards in road transport and the gig economy.

It involves a formal consultation process between the TWU and Coles to ensure an ongoing emphasis on safety and to establish mechanisms through which safety issues can be identified and addressed.

Aldi lost a Federal Court in December aimed at silencing truck drivers speaking out about safety in its supply chain.

The ruling followed evidence and testimony from drivers about being forced to work fatigued, being ridiculed and pushed out of their jobs for speaking out, not paid proper rates or super, said the TWU.

Drivers have also spoken out about a lack of weighing systems to gauge when trucks are overloaded, of flooded and badly lit loading docks, of blocked fire exits and rotten meat left lying around.

Safe Work Australia statistics for 2019 show a jump to 58 transport workers killed, up from 38 in 2018.

In the last five years, 895 people died in truck crashes, according to the Bureau for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics.

Woolworths has been approached for comment.

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