TWU gives Aldi the Coles treatment on rates

Union buckles in for long-term campaign of the sort seen by rival grocers

TWU gives Aldi the Coles treatment on rates
The TWU has the bit between its teeth regarding Aldi


Supermarket firm Aldi is continuing its Federal Court action against the Transport Workers Union (TWU) as the union pickets its premises.

The legal conflict saw a case management hearing today which led the TWU accusing Aldi of attacking free speech.

Aldi had last week sought to end picket action that had seen protests Fremantle in Western Australia and Regency Park in South Australia.

Aldi had been concerned a new picket would appear at Rooty Hill, west of Sydney and near Aldi’s Minchinbury distribution centre.

It also sought an injunction against publication of "certain communications relating to the dispute between the parties".

The company has rejected union claims regarding its supply chain practices but looks set for a long campaign of the sort Coles would be familiar with.

Court papers note the judge quoting hearsay evidence of a woman wearing the TWU livery at Regency Park saying words to this effect: "We will be running more of these events in the future if you do not agree to meet with us to discuss safe rates."

Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal

The judge contextualised the issue as relating to the demise of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT), which had "generated a degree of industrial unhappiness about the position of independent contractors in the transport industry".

Aldi had also wanted related TWU publications online and in hard copy stopped.

It argued the campaign was causing it brand damage in relation to the shopping public and reputation damage with potential employees.

In rejecting the publications call, the judge says that in part it relates to the "tort of injurious falsehood" which must involve "the presence of malice"

"Resort to the back history to this dispute reveals that the TWU is engaged in a particular campaign, trying to assert its particular view about how the transport sector ought to be regulated so far as independent contractors are concerned.

"It may be – and I make no conclusive comment about this – that it has conducted itself in a way which is upsetting to Aldi. It may be that it has used language which is strong. It may be that it has a lingering degree of resentment towards Aldi.

"But none of that detracts from the proposition that the views which the TWU are pursuing are bona fide views and I do not think I can conclude, in that circumstance, that there is any real prospect of making out the tort of injurious falsehood."

TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon accused the company of "trying to use bullying tactics to silence truck drivers and their supporters in highlighting the problems with safety in the Aldi supply chain".

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