Woolworths' stance on RSRT wins union backing

TWU welcomes Woolworths’ commitment to work with the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal and wants Coles to pledge likewise

Woolworths' stance on RSRT wins union backing
Woolworths’ stance on RSRT wins union backing
January 16, 2013

Woolworths has won praise from one of the retail sector’s staunchest critics for pledging to work with the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT).

The Transport Workers Union (TWU) responded to comments the retailer made to ATN, and says it its keen to engage with Woolworths to work on reducing client pressure on truck drivers and operators.

Woolworths says it supports any measures to improve road safety and it will work with the RSRT during its investigation of the retail sector.

Furthermore, Woolworths National Transport Manager Chris Brooks says the brand looks favourably on transport contractors paying their drivers a high wage because it attracts the best driver talent.

"Recent comments from Woolworths’ national transport manager are encouraging for everyone in the road transport industry and for anyone who is determined to tackle the lethal pressures that make driving a truck the most dangerous job in Australia," TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon says.

However, the TWU says Coles needs to do more to engage on the issues of safety, rates of pay and pressures on drivers.

"Despite the mountain of evidence from more than 20 years of research, which has proven time and again the link between rates of pay and safety, Coles continues to stick their head in the sand and deny any responsibility for the safe transport of their goods," Sheldon says.

"We look forward to cooperating with Woolworths on the serious issues facing truckies and transport companies and hope that this brings Coles and other major retailers one step closer to taking responsibility for the safe transportation of their goods and a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work from truckies."

Coles denies its transport contracts force drivers into unsafe or illegal practices. It says it uses Toll and Linfox to haul its goods, but the TWU claims the work is also outsourced to owner-drivers and small fleets.

Sheldon says a recent TWU survey of truck drivers showed 40 percent of drivers carting Coles freight claimed they could not afford to take their trucks off the road for essential maintenance.

The RSRT will this year look at transport practices in the retail, livestock, bulk grain, interstate long distance and intrastate long distance sectors. It can issue orders mandating rates and conditions throughout the supply chain and can also hear disputes over wages and safety.

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