Release date: 24/02/2012

Coles and other major retailers must be made accountable for the safe transportation of the goods and must stop “squeezing the life” out of truck drivers. That’s according to Tony Sheldon, National Secretary of the Transport Workers Union, (TWU).

Speaking today from Roseland Shopping Centre, Sydney, where Tony was joined by TWU members and local residents in highlighting Coles’ aggressive practices, Tony commented, “For too long major retailers, particularly Coles have been allowed to squeeze the life out of truck drivers by forcing them to drive too fast, too far and for too long. The two big retailers constitute one third of all freight movements in the country. They have aggressively leveraged this economic power to drive down safety on our roads to increase their profits.”

“Coles and other major retailers treat truckies as mobile warehouses. The unrealistic and dangerous deadlines, the hours of unpaid waiting times and the shocking low rates create dangerous incentives for unsafe road practices, simply for a truckie to put food on the table. The results of this aggression are clear; an average of 330 people killed in heavy vehicle incidents every year; more than 5300 injured and truck driving having a fatality rate 10 times the industrial average.” 

“We are here today to ask Coles a simple question: how many more deaths will it take before Coles faces up to their responsibility to truckies, their families and to every Australian? It is time for Coles to come out in support of the Road Safety Remuneration Bill and to finally think about road safety for all Australians, not their share price,” concluded Tony Sheldon. 



·       Each year an average of 330 people are killed on our roads as a result of heavy vehicle incidents.

·       More than 5300 are injured.

·       The economic cost of this has been independently estimated at $2.7 billion.

·       The Road Safety Remuneration Bill is currently before the House of Representatives Committee on Infrastructure and Communications. The Bill will be debated by both Houses of Parliament in the coming weeks.

Examples of evidence from over 20 years of commissions, coroners reports and Inquiries explicitly linking rates of pay and safety. 

·       The 2008 Report from The Hon Lance Wright QC and Professor Michael Quinlan:

“This Review finds... solid survey evidence linking payment levels and systems to crashes, speeding, driving while fatigued and drug use.”

·       The 1991 Federal Department of Transport and Communications report, Long Distance Truck Drivers: On road performance and economic reward: “Any deviation from a fixed salary tends to encourage practices designed to increase economic reward which are not synergetic with reducing exposure to risk.”

·       The NSW Deputy Coroner Dorelle Pinch commented in 2005 after the tragic deaths of a number of employee drivers: “As long as driver payments are based on a (low) rate per kilometer there will always be an incentive for drivers to maximize the hours they drive, not because they are greedy but simply to earn a decent wage.” 

·       Sworn testimony from Associate Professor Michael Belzer of University of Michigan before the NSW Industrial Relations Commission Mutual Responsibility For Road Safety Case, 2006: “...Every 10% more that drivers earn in pay rate is associated with an 18.7% lower probability of crash, and for every 10% more paid days off the probability of driver crashes declines 6.3%.”

·       The vast majority of industry associations and leaders are in favour of the Road Safety Remuneration Bill, including:  the Victorian Transport Association, the Australian Industrial Road Transport Industrial Organisation (ARTIO), which is the recognised peak industrial employer body for road transport; Tim Squires Small fleet operator, Australian Trucking Association (ATA) board member and President of the Queensland Trucking Association (QTA); Laurie D'Apice, Linfox, President of Industrial Relations, Chair of the Transport & Logistics Industry Skills Council and President of ARTIO NSW; Arthur Tzaneros, Port Operator and CEO of the Australian Container Freight Services (ACFS); Phil Halton, Livestockers’ association, former director of the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority.

For further information, please contact:  Barry Dunning, Press Officer, TWU, Tel: 0408 463 199, email:



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