Boss Watch: Coles pushing safety down the chain

Truck safety is down, down at Coles

Truck drivers and their families rallied outside Coles stores on May 10 to protest against the supermarket giant’s treatment of drivers, which they say is causing road deaths.

The market power that Coles and other big retailers have — including control over a third of the truck driving market — allows them to dictate price and delivery schedules to drivers.

The Transport Workers Union (TWU) said a survey of more than 700 truck drivers found that 55% of Coles drivers admitted to driving at unsafe speeds.

“You squeeze a guy driving a 40 tonne truck day in, day out, paying him a pittance and demanding unrealistic deadline after unrealistic deadline, you create the conditions for chaos,” TWU secretary Tony Sheldon said.

Sheldon said truck crashes result in 330 deaths and more than 5000 injuries on Australian roads each year. Truck driving is Australia’s most dangerous industry, with a death rate 10 times the industrial average.

At a protest at the Sydney store, unionists were outraged that Coles management were physically confiscating leaflets that were handed to shoppers to alert them to the concerns of the truck drivers.

RailCorp to cut 750 jobs to “improve service”

Unions say the NSW Coalition government’s announcement that 750 rail jobs will be slashed is the first of many planned sackings.

State transport minister Gladys Berejiklian said the sackings of one in five “middle-managers” will not affect front line services.

Australian Services Union NSW secretary Sally McManus told the Sydney Morning Herald: “You can’t say you are going to lose jobs, and service quality is going to go up; it’s illogical.”

The government is also moving to break up RailCorp into two parts, NSW Trains for regional lines, and Sydney Trains for city lines. Breaking up public services into smaller parts is often a pre-cursor to privatisation.

NSW Rail Tram and Bus Union secretary Alex Claassens said the union would consider industrial action.

Murray Goulburn axes 300 jobs

Victorian-based dairy cooperative Murray Goulburn says it will axe 300 jobs, 12% of its workers, to “boost competitiveness”. The National Union of Workers (NUW) says they are being locked out of discussions with management.

The NUW’s Adam Portelli told the ABC on May 16: “This shouldn't be a process that's being conducted in a back room … workers who actually perform the jobs that may not exist in four weeks' time [should be] there so they can have some say in their own future.”