National Secretary of the Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) Tony Sheldon said yesterday supermarket giant Coles was responsible for an increased risk of truck crashes on Australian roads, by forcing drivers to speed, drive unsafe hours and carry overweight loads.
Speaking in Perth outside the Wesfarmers AGM – owner of Coles – Mr Sheldon said one in four Coles supply chain drivers felt under pressure to speed while driving for Coles.
‘Another one in four drivers say they’re under pressure to carry illegally overweight loads, and half are pressured to skip rest breaks and stay behind the wheel,’ Mr Sheldon said.
‘Transport is a dangerous industry.
‘330 people die in truck-related accidents each year. Truck crashes affect the entire travelling public.
‘Yet Coles’s casual disregard for safety is making crashes more likely.
‘No driver wants to drive unsafe – it’s their lives at risk.
‘Coles earnings last year were $1.53 billion – up 84 per cent in just four years.
‘But we’re seeing continued pressure to cut corners and cut costs in transport. And that risks lives.
‘Many companies in the Coles supply chain operate on small margins. They can’t afford to lose Coles contracts, and they can’t afford to argue back when the pressure comes to speed or cut maintenance.
‘We’re here today to call on Coles to put the public first, to stop putting pressure on drivers to speed or carry unsafe loads, and to help prevent truck crashes by offering fair conditions to workers in the Coles supply chain.”
‘And we’re calling on shareholders to change Coles’s culture to one of fairness for workers and safety on our roads.’
Mr Sheldon was joined at the Wesfarmers AGM by interstate driver John Waltis who said pressures in the industry included impossible demands and unpaid waiting time of up to 20 hours a week.