TWU takes Aldi to task on safety response


Union lists safety shortfalls after supermarket chain denies issues

TWU takes Aldi to task on safety response
Tony Sheldon leading the Aldi protest in Adelaide

 

The Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) has given short shrift Aldi’s response to yesterday’s national action day.

The union appears particularly goaded by the supermarket chain’s claim that it had conducted an internal survey of drivers that found no problems.

The union is calling on Aldi to meet to discuss introducing whistleblower protections and enforceable rights, saying drivers need to be able to come forward and reveal safety risks without fear of harassment or sacking.

"It comes as no surprise that Aldi is claiming it has conducted an internal survey that found nothing wrong in its supply chain," TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon says.

"We have evidence of drivers bullied into taking safety risks and who have been ridiculed and harassed when they raise concerns.

"It is clear there is no appropriate Aldi mechanism for drivers to flag problems without repercussions.

The TWU also takes issue with Aldi’s assertions that it had written to its "supplier base" to remind them of its "expectation and policies in relation to safety".

"Aldi needs to address this simple premise: its low cost contracts do not allow its goods to be delivered safely," Sheldon adds.

"No amount of ‘reminding’ operators about safety will change that. We know too many transport operators working with Aldi do not maintain their vehicles, do not train their drivers properly and do not pay their drivers fairly.

"We demand to know what Aldi is doing to address this gaping problem in its supply chain."

The latest response comes after Aldi corporate logistics managing director Damien Scheidel firmly rejected the union’s statements, describing them in a national video message to Aldi drivers as "unsubstantiated, generic claims" that were "disgraceful accusations and utterly untrue".  

The union says Aldi drivers have given the TWU statements on major breaches of fatigue rules and harassment of drivers when they continue to raise the issue.

It says drivers have been forced to drive longer hours than fatigue rules allow because of delays with loading and trucks not ready to take out.

"When they told managers about this they were told: ‘Maybe you need to go faster’ and ‘everyone else is doing it, you are the only one with a problem’ and ‘it’s your job to manage your fatigue’," it adds

"One driver recounted being delayed one evening very late but was forced to start an early schedule the following day. He’d had just five hours between the two shifts and three hours sleep. He was harassed at work for raising concerns and ridiculed by one manager about being fatigued."

Drivers are also said to have spoken about lack of safety at work such as fire exits blocked, electricity wires exposed and even a lack of toilet facilities.

The TWU insists Aldi uses contractors in its supply chain "whose practices pose serious safety risks.

"Aldi’s low cost contracts put financial pressure on these operators to cut safety corners."

The union says it has identified:

  • inexperienced trainers training new drivers at one South Australian transport operator
  • below-Award flat rates with no super at a Queensland operator
  • vehicles not being maintained properly at a Queensland operator
  • driver security and safety issues at night at a Victoria operator.

 

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