Truck drivers are demanding better conditions from 40 of the nation’s top retailers, which they say are turning record profits while small transport operators on razor-thin margins go to the wall.
Truckies will descend on ALDI stores in person in co-ordinated rallies across the country on Tuesday, after the German-owned chain pushed back on union demands.
It follows the collapse of Australia’s largest cold-chain operator, Scott’s Refrigerated Logistics, which went into administration last month, impacted by increasing fuel prices, weather events and COVID shutdowns.
The Transport Workers Union says companies are compromising safety to stay afloat.
The TWU has a list of demands, ranging from greater transparency and fairness, eliminating financial incentives and pressures to take risks, to ensuring workers are able to speak out on pay and safety, which it will deliver to the companies on Tuesday.
Companies to receive the charter include Amazon, Apple, Ikea, 7-Eleven, David Jones, Costco, Arnott’s, Bing Lee, Nestle and Myer.
ALDI is the only one of the major three supermarkets to refuse to sign the TWU’s charter on supply-chain accountability, according to the union.
An ALDI spokeswoman rejected the TWU’s “baseless and damaging” allegations.
ALDI has agreed to engage with the TWU over its concerns, but has requested more information regarding safety claims made by the union.
“We wrote to the TWU two weeks ago offering to meet with them and are still waiting for a reply,” the spokeswoman said.
“The ALDI business model does not involve squeezing suppliers.”
TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said highly profitable retailers squeezing transport operators was killing Australians in preventable truck crashes and sending transport operators broke.
“Transport workers are taking the crisis in transport to those with the commercial power reaping massive gains from the razor-thin margins of operators and owner-drivers who transport their goods,” Mr Kaine said.
He said transport workers would take further action if necessary, including more protests and convoys.
“The federal government has committed to setting enforceable standards in transport to make the industry safer, fairer and more sustainable,” Mr Kaine said.
“It’s time wealthy supply-chain clients like ALDI and Amazon stepped up to their responsibilities to stop the slaughter on our roads.”
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