The Transport Workers’ Union has stated that supermarket company, Aldi, would rather continue a Federal Court case “attacking” the right of truck drivers to speak out about safety in its supply chain rather than hold talks with the Union.
According to TWU, Aldi said that 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 11 July 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,” said TWU National Secretary, Tony Sheldon.
“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.
“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,” he said.
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 13 June it was clear to TWU that 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,” said Sheldon.
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.