WA truck drivers protest over woolies rip off

Truck drivers and their supporters will protest at Woolworths WA state head office in Kewdale today over changes made by the wealthy retailer which will see drivers lose up to $300 a week and even threaten their jobs.

The protest follows Woolworths decision to change to trucking subcontractors which pay drivers less in overtime and which will put the jobs drivers who have done the work for 20 years at risk.

Truckies will today call on the Federal Government to put back in place an independent tribunal to hold wealthy retailers and manufacturers to account over their contracts which see drivers ripped off and people killed in truck crashes.

Tim Dawson TWU WA Branch Secretary said Woolworths must ensure all parts of its supply chain are safe and fair.

“Woolworths has profited from the hard work of truck drivers during the pandemic and we are appalled that the way they repay them is by ripping them off. It is a disgrace that truck drivers are having $300 taken out of their weekly wages and having their jobs put at risk by a company which turned a $1.14 billion profit in just six months,” he said.

“When truck drivers are put under financial pressure this has a huge impact on safety. Drivers are forced to speed, drive long hours, and skip their mandatory rest breaks just to make ends meet. This is the reason behind the high number of truck crash deaths which are devastating our communities. Wealthy retailers like Woolworths must be 100% certain that their entire supply chain is safe, that risks to safety can be detected and when problems arise that truck drivers can speak out about them without the fear of getting sacked,” Dawson said.

Coles and the TWU signed charter in December on standards in road transport and the gig economy. It involves a formal consultation process between the TWU and Coles to ensure an ongoing emphasis on safety and to establish mechanisms through which safety issues can be identified and addressed.

Aldi lost a Federal Court in December aimed at silencing truck drivers speaking out about safety in its supply chain. The ruling followed evidence and testimony from drivers about being forced to work fatigued, being ridiculed and pushed out of their jobs for speaking out, not paid proper rates or super. Drivers have also spoken out about a lack of weighing systems to gauge when trucks are overloaded, of flooded and badly lit loading docks, of blocked fire exits and rotten meat left lying around.

Safe Work Australia statistics for 2019 show a jump to 58 transport workers killed, up from 38 in 2018. In the last five years, 895 people died in truck crashes, according to the Bureau for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics.

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