The wealthy retailer said it wanted to pursue the case rather than reach an agreement on safety in its supply chain, after a Federal Court said it could not do both at the same time. The court will reconvene on July 11th to receive an update on the matter.
“Aldi wanted to keep up the pretence of talking to the TWU while continuing to sue the union and truck drivers for highlighting grave problems in its supply chain. The Federal Court rightly determined it could not have it both ways. Aldi was forced to choose and it decided to continue its attacks on free speech,” said TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon.
“This issue at its heart is about public safety. The concerns that drivers have raised about Aldi’s supply chain warrant urgent attention. Instead of listening to these concerns in talks, Aldi instead wants to shut them down,” Sheldon added.
Aldi began its legal case against drivers to stop them protesting and speaking out about its supply chain last August. Hundreds of truck drivers and their supporters have since protested against Aldi, calling on the retailer to acknowledge problems in its supply chain.
Aldi recently sought mediation with the TWU and agreed to suspend the case. But during a hearing on June 13th it was clear the retailer intended to continue pursuing the case.
Truck drivers have spoken out that they are pushed to work long hours to meet Aldi’s unrealistic deadlines. There are also concerns about the transport operators which deliver Aldi’s goods, with some not maintaining their trucks and not paying their drivers the correct rates and superannuation.
“These issues are creating safety risks which are putting lives in danger. Deaths from truck crashes are increasing as is the number of truck drivers being killed at work. Aldi needs to stop attacking truck drivers and instead sit down in good faith and be part of the solution,” said Sheldon.
The number of people killed in truck crashes increased by 9.4% in the 12 months to last September, according to data from Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics. The job for drivers is also getting more dangerous. Safe Work Australia data shows almost 40% of all workplace deaths involved a transport worker.
A major agreement between the TWU and retail giant Coles was signed during the union’s National Council in Adelaide last month. The agreement involved statements of principles to ensure safe and fair conditions for workers in the Coles supply chain and the on-demand economy. A separate charter has been signed previously with Woolworths.