Working Life

TWU activists arrested at peaceful demonstration


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By the Working Life Team

Friday, 13 November 2015

THE Transport Workers’ Union has said it is planning further rallies and store sit-ins after 10 truck drivers and union activists were arrested yesterday during a peaceful demonstration at a Coles store in Parramatta.

The protest was one of several rallies held around Australia ahead of the annual general meeting of Coles’ parent company Wesfarmers. Protesters highlighted the 330 deaths in truck-related crashes each year because of the pressure by wealthy retailers.TWU2

Coles’ low cost contracts are forcing truck drivers to speed, drive long hours with over-loaded vehicles.

Relatives of people killed in truck-crashes and TWU activists confronted Coles’ bosses during the annual general meeting in Perth yesterday over the company’s stance on safety. When pressed on whether the company would sign up to a safety charter, Wesfarmers chairman Bob Every replied: “Short answer is no.”

The TWU said this response showed the company was insisting on putting profits above people.

“Coles is a multi-billion company making money off the backs of devastated families caught up in the deadly squeeze on transport,” said TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon.

Wesfarmers reported profits of $2.44 billion this year while Coles’ revenues are $38 billion. But while the company’s growth and sales are up, its annual accounts show it has cut freight costs by $13 million.


Lystra Tagliaferri, whose husband David died in 2011 when a fatigued truck driver veered off the road, said ahead of a rally outside the AGM she supports the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal which is examining pressure on drivers and safe pay rates. “The big companies are responsible for what is going on,” she said.

The Transport Workers’ Union is demanding the Government drop its opposition to the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal after a $7 million link between Wesfarmers and the Liberal Party was revealed. Coles opposes the Tribunal. Over $5 million came from dividends from shareholdings in Wesfarmers to the secretive fundraising entity of the Liberal Party, the Cormack Foundation.

Coles denies there is a problem with safety in their supply chain. However an audit this year of three transport operators at the Coles Distribution Centre at Eastern Creek in NSW found 126 breaches of National Heavy Vehicle Regulations. These included drivers forced to mark loading and unloading time as rest time and drivers denied their rest time during more than 11 hours driving.TWU4

Employers, governments and trade unions at the United Nations body, the International Labor Organization, recently backed safe remuneration and supply chain accountability based on the Australian Safe Rates model, to tackle the root causes of the high global death toll in trucking.

A Safe Work Australia report in July showed the extent of the safety problem in transport. Over 30% of transport employers say workers ignore safety rules to get the job done. One in five transport employers accept dangerous behaviour, compared to less than 2% in other industries. One in five break safety rules to meet deadlines – this compares with just 6% of employers in other industries.

Click here for the full break-down of the financial links.

Working Life is a forum to share ideas and opinions about work and life, both light-hearted and serious. The opinions presented on Working Life are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent policies or views of the ACTU.


Creative Commons License
We believe in the free flow of information, and content on Working Life is available to be republished online or in print under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


  1. Dan Murphy
    Friday, 13 November, 2015 at 3:36 pm · Reply

    Alright! The sit-in is back. About time

  2. taketime
    Sunday, 15 November, 2015 at 1:36 pm · Reply

    Profit for 2015,$38 million, a ma & pa shareholder company, and you have 126 breaches, Coles you have a problem. Simple as that, breaches, are needing to be remedy, rightly, NOT wrongly-rightly, but rightly, the drivers are humanbeings, and the shareholders are too, so……God forbid anymore deaths, from this.

  3. luke weyland
    Tuesday, 17 November, 2015 at 6:38 pm · Reply

    solidarity with the drivers.

  4. Malcolm
    Saturday, 28 November, 2015 at 1:38 pm · Reply

    Good Afternoon, this is what Chain or responsibility legislation was introduced to stop drivers being pushed, and yes i know it happens, last linfox site i worked out the manager could not care less and often forced drivers to sit and wait til exactly their time, even if no other trucks were there, timeslots are a guideline only, not set in stone as some companies try to make it, 15 minutes late and they turn them away at coles, 15 minutes can be lost on the road at anytime due to anything going on, putting more stress on drivers and that is illegal.

  5. andsotigoes
    Sunday, 6 December, 2015 at 8:49 am · Reply

    How many truck accidents in the past week?first week of December, I drove past, 1, a fatality of the other drivers’ of the vehicle, and my daughter drove past another,-fatality,on the same day, only hours apart. How about, we ALL, slow, down, in ALL, areas of our lives, we don’t need everything, right-now, this minute, or sooner, than I ask. Does, going flat-out, add, more time to a life, no, just stress, competition has gotten out-of-hand. Why are you alive?, this is a beautiful planet, slow down and enjoy it. And businesses, and corporations, they are just entities, but they are run by, human-beings, treat people how you would like to be treated, If you want respect, well you ‘first,’ What is happiness? anyone.

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