NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION FIGHTS ALDI INACTION
Truck drivers and TWU members and officials have held a National Day of Action in all major capitals today as a new survey shows 93% of drivers want to see changes to make transport safer and less pressured.
The survey also shows almost 93% of drivers believe pressure on them is continuing or increasing, with drivers listing the financial squeeze from major supermarkets and manufacturers, bad roads, unsafe truck stops and unrealistic deadlines as major sources of pressure. Over 1,000 drivers responded to the survey.
Today’s protest was held outside the Franklin St, Aldi store in the CBD.
Hundreds of drivers have held several protests over safety in the industry during the past year, highlighting in particular the role played by wealthy retailer Aldi which refuses to take responsibility for safety problems in its supply chain.
Aldi last August began a Federal Court case attacking the rights of drivers to speak out and protest about safety in its supply chain after drivers raised concerns about breaches of fatigue rules and harassment. One driver was consistently told “everyone else is doing it, you are the only one with a problem”.
Aldi also engages some contractors in its supply chain whose practices pose serious safety risks. This includes inexperienced trainers training new drivers at one SA transport operator, below-Award flat rates with no superannuation at a Queensland operator and vehicles not being maintained properly at another Queensland operator.
Two years ago the Federal Government shut down the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal which was at the time investigating safety in trucking and holding major companies to account for low cost contracts – which means their goods cannot be delivered safely.
This financial pressure means that trucks are not being maintained and drivers are being pushed to speed, drive long hours and skip mandatory rest breaks. This is devastating families across Australia because of truck crashes and it means drivers are copping all the blame for problems in the industry.
TWU (VIC/TAS Branch) Secretary John Berger said now not enough was being done to reduce risks to safety in trucking despite the latest official data showing the increase in deaths from truck crashes continues.
“The statistics show there is a grave problem, but the Federal Government refuses to talk about it. Wealthy retailers and manufacturers are unfettered in placing increased pressure on supply chains and this is causing vehicles to not be maintained properly,” John said.
“Truck drivers are also still being pushed to work longer – many drivers exceed the 72-hour legal limit – and faster, speed and skip mandatory rest breaks despite laws in place to prevent this. They take shortcuts and stimulants.
“Many employees and owner-drivers perform unpaid non-driving work like loading and waiting and this causes dangerous fatigue. Work-rest limits don’t allow time for sufficient sleep. The way truck drivers in Australia are paid is simply inconsistent with safety and I want people to be able to say ‘we won’t give our time away when driving a rich owner’s truck’.
“Drivers and innocent motorists are being killed and nothing will change until a new system is put into place to hold those at the top of supply chains accountable.”