Logistics News, Supply Chain News

Protesting transport workers serve claim on retailers for safe supply chains

Aldi Australia has responded after the TWU yesterday served claims on Aldi and other retailers calling on them to sign on to a safety claim

The Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) yesterday presented top retailers a claim demanding they sign up to six principles to make supply chains safer, fairer and more sustainable.

The TWU says the claim follows the collapse of Scott’s Refrigerated Logistics, which they say was in the supply chain of 22 of the 40 companies to receive the claim.

Yesterday’s movement comes after Coles and Woolworths agreed to sign the TWU’s charter on supply chain accountability, but Aldi allegedly didn’t.

The six principles of the claim are:

1. Safety and fairness – accountability for safe, fair work throughout their supply chains

2. Transparency – over transport contracts so no worker falls through the cracks

3. Collective voice – ensuring transport workers can speak out on pay and safety

4. Education and consultation – on issues that impact workers’ pay and safety

5. Lifting standards – eliminating financial incentives and pressures to take risks

6. Disaster preparedness – equipping workers to safely navigate natural disasters, pandemics and other supply chain disruptions

Aldi says it utterly refutes any of these allegations made by the TWU, saying the ongoing, targeted campaign to discredit them by the TWU is “both baseless and damaging”.

RELATED ARTICLE: Scott’s administration leads to transport reform calls

“The TWU continues to make unsubstantiated and wildly inaccurate claims about both our supplier partnerships and how seriously we take the safety of our drivers. Given the seriousness of these claims, we will respond to both baseless claims,” an Aldi Australia spokesperson told ATN.

Firstly, Aldi says it doesn’t squeeze suppliers, with its low costs being possible due to a focus on efficient business processes.

“Aldi understands that it accounted for just three per cent of Scott’s business. Any accusation that Aldi and our business model is responsible for the company’s collapse is wildly misinformed and an unwarranted attack built to discredit Aldi,” the spokesperson says.

Aldi also refuted the claim that it has refused to engage with the TWU, saying it has actively sought information from the union.

“We have asked for details to substantiate safety claims made by the TWU and indicated our willingness to meet with them,” Aldi says.

“Most recently, we wrote to the TWU two weeks ago offering to meet with them and are still waiting for a reply.  We are proud of our safety credentials and we remain open to dialogue with the TWU and other representative groups to learn if there are ways we can improve.

“Aldi engages fairly and professionally with all unions that have coverage of our employees and comply fully with the provisions of the Fair Work Act when dealing with all unions and their rights to access our sites. 

“Any notion that we would put our employees, contractors, supplier partners or the general public in harm’s way is a disgraceful accusation and is wholly untrue.”

The TWU says yesterday hundreds of truck drivers and logistics workers descended on Aldi Australia stores to hand-deliver the claim.

TWU national secretary Michael Kaine says retailers are reporting profits while operators are under pressure to stay afloat.

“Transport workers are taking the crisis in transport to those with the commercial power reaping massive gains from the thin margins of operators and owner-drivers who transport their goods,” Kaine says.

“Workers have had enough of wealthy retailers, manufacturers and agricultural companies shirking their responsibilities for safety and fairness in their supply chains. They’ve had enough of deadly pressures, bankruptcies and a rise of exploitative gig models as operators scramble with growing and unrealistic pressure for quicker, cheaper deliveries.

“Transport workers are taking affirmative action today and over coming weeks and months with a commitment to further protests and convoys to hold wealthy clients to account.

“The federal government has committed to setting enforceable standards in transport to make the industry safer, fairer and more sustainable. It’s time wealthy supply chain clients like Aldi and Amazon stepped up to their responsibilities.”

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