The Transport Workers’ Union of QLD will converge on Coles today to call them out on unsafe trucking practices on the highway: as Coles’ reports revenue of $38 billion and QLD’s road toll escalates with two fatal truck crashes last week.

“Every day Coles gets away with pushing truck drivers to work for rock bottom rates and the drivers are forced to drive longer, faster and skip breaks, QLD families are at risk on our roads and the TWU and QLD will not stand for this,” TWU QLD Secretary Peter Biagini said.

As at 5 October, Queensland’s road toll stands at 181 – 10 more than the same time last year.

Last week there were four truck crashes in just three days, two of them fatal.

330 people are killed in Australia in truck crashes each year.

“Coles has $38 billion in revenue yet continues to refuse to take responsibility of the trucks carrying its goods on our roads, contracting down the supply chain until truck drivers are pushed to drive faster, for longer hours, skip breaks and fall asleep at the wheel working for rock bottom rates of pay,” Mr Biagini said.

Finally there is hope for safe roads for QLD families through Australia’s road safety watchdog, the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT) which is working to address the issues causing truck crashes on our roads.

The TWU has welcomed a draft decision by the road safety watchdog to set safe rates for truck drivers to cover the full costs of their work.

The draft decision is the RSRT’s first major ruling on payments and is a first step towards easing the pressure on drivers which leads to carnage on the roads. The draft order puts in place contract and auditing obligations on those at the top of supply chains.

Last week the TWU exposed a case where a QLD truck driver was sacked by another company, Fulton Hogan, after raising the fatal safety risk of overloaded trucks, starved of work then sent out on the road without enough money to pay for fuel.

“We still have a long way to go before wealthy retailers like Coles own up to the role they play in the deaths of 330 people each year in truck crashes. But this is an important first step towards ensuring drivers earn a safe wage that prevents them and others from being put at risk,” the TWU said.

When drivers are not paid proper rates, when they are not paid for waiting times or unloading times, they are put under pressure to skip breaks, drive faster, for longer with over-loaded vehicles in a stressed and tired state. This impacts on our community in tragic ways.

Coles is campaigning against the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, which has heard cases of the retailer sweating truck drivers. Coles – which it was announced last week has revenues of $38 billion – has donated $2.1 million to the Liberal Party, which has signaled its plan to scrap the tribunal.


Media Contact: Tanie Harris Sansey 0411 875 910

Media Opportunity:
●RALLY OUTSIDE COLES NEW FARM (85 Merthyr Rd), 10-30AM TUESDAY 6 OCTOBER. Union officials will hold  media conference.
●TWU officials including State Secretary Peter Biagini available for phone interviews beforehand.

Facts & Figures:

Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal:
·      The RSRT has the power to inquire into practices in the road transport industry, including holding major clients like Coles to account for how their business practices affect safety throughout the supply chain
·      It began operating in July 2012
·      The RSRT is able to make orders on:
o  Minimum remuneration for employee drivers and owner-drivers
o   Industry practices for loading and unloading vehicles, waiting times, working hours, load limits, payment methods and payment periods
o   Ways of reducing or removing remuneration-related incentives, pressures and practices that contribute to unsafe work practices.
·    So far it has begun inquiries into five sectors: retail and long distance; oil, fuel and gas; cash-in-transit; waste; and port and wharf sector.
·    It has made an important order requiring truck drivers to be paid within 30 days

TWU survey of truck drivers found:
·      46% of drivers in the Coles supply chain feel pressure to skip breaks,
·      28% feel pressured to speed
·      26% feel pressured to carry overweight loads
·      Many of these transport companies also operate on small margins and sacrifice or delay essential maintenance to meet the economic squeeze placed on them by Coles

The National Transport Commission’s report on Remuneration and Safety in the Australian Heavy Vehicle Industry (2008) said practices by the retail industry affecting road transport “can play a direct and significant role in causing hazardous practices”. It adds: “There is solid survey evidence linking payment levels and systems to crashes, speeding, driving while fatigued and drug use”.


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