Truck drivers and their family and friends, including children, from across Australia have written Christmas cards to the wealthy supermarket appealing for it to “please keep your transport workers safe over the holidays and always”. Drivers and supporters will pin the cards which have been sent in from around the country to a Christmas tree in Sydney today. TWU National Assistant Secretary Nick McIntosh, Unions NSW Secretary Mark Morey and retired truck driver John Hanley will speak at the symbolic action.
The Transport Workers’ Union has been urging Aldi to hold talks on improving road safety, however Aldi’s only response so far has been to try to block truck drivers speaking out about safety breaches via a court case against the union.
“We know that road accidents spike over the holidays, and transport is at its highest demand during this period. The deadly pressure on transport operators and truck drivers to meet unrealistic deadlines will undoubtedly increase over Christmas. Transport workers are sending a clear message to Aldi to take road safety seriously and make sure its transport workers, the transport workers in its supply chain, and other road users can return home to their families in one piece,” TWU National Assistant Secretary Nick McIntosh said.
The appeal comes just two days after the Australian Labor Party committed to urgently establishing a Safe Rates system which would hold wealthy retailers, like Aldi, to account for safety in their transport supply chains.
Truck drivers have held national protests throughout the year demanding that Aldi addresses safety risks in its supply chain. Aldi drivers have spoken out about breaches of fatigue rules and harassment when they raise safety issues. One driver was told “everyone else is doing it, you are the only one with a problem”.
Coles and Woolworths have both signed charters with the TWU to ensure safety in their transport supply chains, with Coles recently awarding more transport contracts to Toll as part of their commitment to choosing transport operators with the best pay, conditions and safety standards.
“Hundreds die in truck crashes on our roads every year, and trucking has been consistently named as Australia’s deadliest industry. Coles and Woolworths have recognised their critical role in improving road safety. Aldi needs to stop attacking truck drivers and instead sit down in good faith and be part of the solution,” McIntosh added.
Last Christmas, NSW police made an urgent Boxing Day appeal to the public to drive carefully following a spate of deadly road accidents.
So far, 2018 has seen 169 people killed in truck-related crashes on our roads.