Coles rejects road crash claims


ColesSupermarket giant Coles has rejected the Transport Workers’ Union’s claim it is responsible for an increased risk of truck crashes on Australian roads.

The TWU has accused Coles of forcing drivers to speed, work unsafe hours and carry overweight loads.

Outside the annual general meeting of Coles parent company Wesfarmers in Perth on Thursday, the union gathered a handful of members, Labor Senator and former truck driver Glen Sterle, and the families of two men who died after they were hit by a prime mover as they changed a tyre on a car on Old Coast Road, near Myalup, in February 2011.

Union spokesman Patrick Low said there was no suggestion the driver of the prime mover, who had been on the road for 13 hours, was carrying goods for Coles at the time.

“But Coles leads the way in putting pressure on drivers and others follow suit,” Mr Low told AAP.

The union says Coles seeks to reduce transport costs by five per cent each year and the only way it can do it is by cutting corners in transport.

Citing 2012 industry surveys, the union claimed 46 per cent of drivers in the Coles supply chain felt pressure to skip rest breaks.

But the supermarket hit back, saying deaths in the road transport sector had plunged from 58 in 2006/07 to 30 in 2010/11.

“We share the union’s concern for safety because it’s also our number one priority, but the figures they use are wrong,” a spokeswoman said.

“Safe Work Australia issued a report last month which confirmed that the number of annual fatalities in the road freight transport industry has almost halved.

“This is despite a big increase in the amount of freight moved by road.”


You have 7 articles remaining. Unlock 15 free articles a month, it’s free.