Transport workers protested at Aldi in Port Adelaide today over the wealthy retailer’s refusal to address safety in its supply chain and its attack on free speech through a Federal Court case against the Transport Workers’ Union.
Transport is Australia’s deadliest industry. Cost-cutting at the top of supply chains by wealthy retailers, like Aldi, puts pressure on transport workers and operators to speed, skip their rest breaks and delay maintaining their trucks. So far this year 154 people have been killed in truck crashes, including 18 people in SA.
The protest follows multiple national actions over the last two years from truck drivers angry over safety concerns being ignored. Aldi responded with an unprecedented Federal Court case to silence truck drivers, following a protest at a DC in Regent Park, Adelaide.
“Truck crash fatalities this year alone equate to an innocent person being killed every 40 hours, 41 of those people were truck drivers. Yet we have wealthy retailers like Aldi squeezing the transport industry to line their own pockets. For two years now transport workers have protested at Aldi stores over safety issues, but the wealthy supermarket giant refuses to acknowledge its responsibility. We are protesting again today to remind Aldi that while they spend time and money trying to silence us, people are dying on our roads,” said TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine.
“Aldi failed to get an injunction following our protest at their DC in 2017. Rather than listening to the court, the union or the truck drivers raising safety concerns, Aldi simply retaliated again taking up an unprecedented attack on a union’s right to free speech in the Federal Court. Every day that Aldi continues its attempt to silence truck drivers is a day that lives are endangered on our roads,” said TWU SA/NT Branch Secretary Ian Smith.
The Federal Government tore down a road safety watchdog in 2016 despite its own report saying it would have reduced truck crashes by 28%. Since the watchdog was abolished, 629 people have been killed in truck crashes, including 139 truck drivers.
The TWU has announced widespread industrial action in transport next year as 200 enterprise agreements covering 38,000 transport workers expire. The union is pushing to ensure accountability among powerful, wealthy companies at the top of the transport supply chain, like Aldi.
Aldi’s Federal Court case against the TWU resumes on 22nd October.
A major agreement between the TWU and Coles was signed during the union’s National Council in Adelaide last year. The agreement involved statements of principles to ensure safe and fair conditions for workers in the Coles supply chain and the on-demand economy. A separate charter has been signed previously with Woolworths.