Aldi on notice: ‘Drivers are being slaughtered’
TRUCK drivers are "being slaughtered" and "loved ones killed" because of pressure from supermarket giant Aldi to speed, skip breaks and ignore road rules, according to the Transport Workers Union (TWU).
TWU spokesman Tony Sheldon said the companies were forcing truck drivers "into long and dangerous hours" that had culminated in increased road fatalities nationwide. He accused the company on compromising safety through "low-cost contracts" that pressured them to "take appalling risks that endanger lives" to meet deadlines.
"Drivers are not getting a proper rest breaks and that means fatigue," Mr Sheldon said.
"We've seen a 92 per cent increase of road fatalities in NSW alone and more across the country."
But according to Aldi, the union has refused to provide evidence to support its claims.
Hundreds of truck drivers and supporters from the union today protested outside Aldi stores in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth on Wednesday to push for safer working practices, repeating similar actions from last year.
"One in 10 drivers are working over 80 hours a week," Mr Sheldon said.
"Aldi is not dealing with these issues in the trucking industry and a spike of road fatalities across the country.
"Between watching loves ones being killed on the road and watching truck drivers being slaughtered because of pressure from trucking companies as a result of these low cost contracts ... we're going to escalate this dispute and we'll find more and more protests at Aldi stores.
"We won't be bullied by them, we're going to stand up to them and save lives."
Aldi denied the union's claims.
In a statement, an Aldi spokesperson said the company was committed to the safety of its employees, contractors and the community.
"Aldi shares the Transport Workers Union's (TWU) goal of a safe transport industry in order to prevent truck driver deaths," the statement read.
"However, Aldi strongly denies the allegations made by the TWU that our business is placing pressure on the transport industry leading to accidents and deaths.
"Despite Aldi's repeated written requests to the TWU for specific information about alleged issues within our supply chain, the TWU has not provided any evidence to support their claims.
"We remain open to dialogue with the TWU in relation to any specific information they have."
According to the spokesperson, internal practices have been reviewed and records have been audited to "look for violations of our strict safety measures ... due to the seriousness of the continued allegations made by the TWU".
"This research has not turned up any results that substantiate the allegations made by the TWU," the statement read.
'Further, we have written to our supplier base to remind them of our expectation and policies in relation to safety throughout our supply chain.
"We have also conducted anonymous surveys of our supply chain drivers to help uncover any potential concerns.
"No information received to date validates any of the claims made by the TWU."
The spokesperson said the company respects the right of the TWU to protest.
"Our hope is that they take peaceful action that does not cause disruption to Aldi's customers or create safety issues for our employees or supplier drivers," the statement said.
But it's not just the union putting pressure on Aldi to pay attention and make some changes.
The union protests come as public health experts call on Australia's supermarket giants to remove all junk food and soft drinks from their check-outs.
A first-of-its-kind study conducted by the Global Obesity Centre at Deakin University has assessed the nutrition policies of Australia's major supermarkets. Researchers rated the policies of Woolworths, Coles, Aldi and IGA out of 100 in the review which examined six key areas including nutrition labelling, promotion practices and product accessibility.
The data included publicly available information collected until the end of 2017 plus policy information provided by the retailers.
The information was then assessed using the 'Business Impact Assessment - Obesity and Population Nutrition tool' developed by INFORMAS, a global network of public health researchers that monitor food environments worldwide. Woolworths ranked the highest, scoring 46 out of 100, while IGA scored just eight points.
- With wires