Sheldon ups ante in quest for safe rates

TWU boss harangues Coles, accusing it being "allowed to squeeze the life out of truck drivers"

February 27, 2012

Union boss Tony Sheldon has upped the ante in his quest for safe rates, again turning his guns on Coles for "squeezing the life" out of truck drivers.

The national secretary of the Transport Workers Union harangued the supermarket giant outside one of its stores last week, accusing it of using its clout to dictate unsafe terms to trucking operators and drivers.

"Coles and other major retailers treat truckies as mobile warehouses. The unrealistic and dangerous deadlines, the hours of unpaid waiting times and the shocking low rates create dangerous incentives for unsafe road practices, simply for a truckie to put food on the table," Sheldon claims.

"For too long major retailers, particularly Coles have been allowed to squeeze the life out of truck drivers by forcing them to drive too fast, too far and for too long. The two big retailers constitute one third of all freight movements in the country. They have aggressively leveraged this economic power to drive down safety on our roads to increase their profits."

Sheldon’s diatribe is the latest move in his bid to rally support for the Road Safety Remuneration Bill which, if passed, will create a tribunal with the power to set pay and pay-related conditions for truck drivers.

Despite a plethora of studies and inquiries arguing otherwise, Coles rejects a link between low rates of pay and poor safety.

It believes governments should enforce occupational, health and safety standards but should have no role in intervening in commercial arrangements between the retailer and transport operators.

Sheldon is trying to convince Coles to rethink its stance, asking it: "how many more deaths will it take before Coles faces up to their responsibility to truckies, their families and to every Australian?"

"It is time for Coles to come out in support of the Road Safety Remuneration Bill and to finally think about road safety for all Australians, not their share price."

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