The Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) will spearhead a protest of truck drivers around the country this morning who are demanding the discount supermarket improve working conditions for drivers.
TWU has released images depicting Aldi warehouses in a poor or unsafe state that poses risks for workers, such as exposed electric cabling, flooded warehouses, chaotic or unstable stacking of products, blocked fire exits or fire equipment, a lack of lighting, and unhygienic food storage.
TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said Aldi truck drivers had contacted the union with evidence of their safety at risk, being pushed to drive fatigued, and more.
“But they have also told us how when they try to raise these safety concerns they are ignored and even ridiculed,” Kaine said.
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“We are protesting today because we want an end to this disregard for safety.”
Aldi truck drivers and TWU are seeking discussions with Aldi to talk about making the supply chain safer for workers, according to Kaine.
He said shoppers would be “very concerned” to see the evidence of working conditions at the “wealthy retailer”.
Yahoo Finance understands the images were taken across an 18 month period leading up to early 2019 across different dates and locations.
Protests will be held at Aldi’s headquarters in Sydney at 10am, Aldi South Melbourne at 11am, along Adelaide’s Commercial Road at 11:30am, and at Aldi East Victoria Park in Perth at 11:30am.
Kaine told Yahoo Finance that Aldi drivers were not attending protests or speaking publicly for fear of the repercussions.
“But today we had drivers protesting who are in the Aldi supply chain who are fearful about safety,” he said.
“We also had drivers protesting from other industries who know that the downward pressure that wealthy retailers puts on rates affects their job security and safety.”
Two-year stoush rages on
Aldi took TWU to court in late April this year after clashes stretching back to 2017 over such transport supply chain safety issues.
At the time, TWU warned the court case “could have far reaching consequences for anyone who wants to protest against poor workplace safety, environmental or rights abuses”.
Aldi’s Federal Court case against TWU picks back up on 22 October.
Today, TWU’s Kaine said despite Aldi’s “attempts to silence us through an expensive court case”, the matter was “just too important for us to stop speaking out about it”.
“People are dying in truck crashes every week and in many cases these crashes can be linked back to poor systems along the supply chains of wealthy retailers and manufacturers,” he said.
“These companies at the top are putting financial pressure on transport operators and truck drivers through their low cost contracts which is causing trucks to not be maintained and drivers pushed to speed, drive long hours and skip hours.
“This problem is killing people, destroying communities and devastating families.”
‘All of these claims are lies’: Aldi
In a statement provided to Yahoo Finance, Aldi Australia’s managing director of corporate logistics Damien Scheidel said the retailer was taking TWU to court for having “misrepresented” Aldi’s professionalism and accusing Aldi of harmful workplace conditions, silencing workers and ignoring responsibilities.
“All of these claims are lies and we will not stand accused of such actions,” Scheidel said, adding that Aldi had contacted TWU more than ten times for details of their claims of safety concerns for further investigation.
“Not once have these details been forthcoming. It is our view that the TWU are more interested in leveraging our good brand for their own influence and political gain than addressing transport safety issues,” he said.
He added that the court case against TWU was not to silence the union.
“Our court action with the TWU is to hold them to the law. They should not be permitted to operate outside of the law.
“In our case we are demanding they take responsibility for their misleading and deceptive conduct. It is not ok to use social and traditional media to propagate lies for their own gain.”
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