TWU calls on retailers to do better on chain of responsibility

Serious compliance shortcomings at a major Coles distribution centre show retailers are not doing enough to meet their chain of responsibility obligations, according to the Transport Workers Union (TWU).

TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon has seized upon the findings of last week’s inspection of Coles’ Eastern Creek centre to demand the big end of the supply chain lift its game on heavy vehicle compliance.

The Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) and New South Wales Police uncovered defective trucks, load restraint breaches and drivers with drugs in their systems.

“This raid by the NSW RMS shows the scale of the problem in our retail supply chain,” Sheldon says.

“Wealthy retailers and other clients need to take responsibility for safety in transport by ensuring the contracts they give out allow operators and owner drivers to cover their entire costs. This is clearly not happening at the moment, which is why high numbers of truck defects and problems with load restraints have been discovered.”

A statement from Coles, however, says the company is serious about meeting its obligations.

“Coles takes road safety and its chain of responsibility obligations very seriously and always responds immediately to any concerns raised by authorities or the companies we partner with,” a company spokesperson says.

Yesterday’s operation was the third Coles distribution centre inspected in 18 months, and the RMS says it is continuing to see poor safety practices.

RMS director of safety and compliance Peter Wells says “rapid cultural change” is needed within Coles’ ranks.

Sheldon says retailers need to also engage with unions and the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT) to ensure transport companies and their drivers receive sustainable rates so they can do their jobs safely.

“If this does not happen the pressure will continue. Trucks and drivers will be sweated to the point of putting all road users at risk,” he says.