Comments by Damien Scheidel, Managing Director of Corporate Logistics at ALDI Australia.
We understand that the public is concerned to hear claims in the media that criticise the practices of our transport operations. Since these claims have emerged, we have received a number of phone calls from concerned customers who want assurance that ALDI is treating its drivers fairly. We treat any claims about unsafe work practices within our business and supply chain with the utmost importance and ensure that incidents which are brought to our attention are investigated thoroughly.
As a member of the ALDI leadership team, I am proud to recognise the value and contribution our employees make in helping to bring our unique offering to Australian shoppers. From our stores, to our warehouses and corporate offices, every one of our employees has a part to play.
Our transport team have a particularly important role to play in the success of our business. They are the key link in ensuring our customers have access to ALDI products from more than 500 stores across the country. Every day they embark from one of our eight Distribution Centres to deliver these products in a safe and timely manner. It’s a big job and, knowing many of our transport employees personally, it’s one they do with great pride. However, recently this pride has been dented with our transport operators being placed at the centre of a targeted campaign by the Transport Workers Union (TWU) that unfairly calls into question the employment conditions and safe working practices at ALDI.
ALDI has a demonstrated commitment to improved safety standards in the transport industry, and we have been deeply disappointed by the unsubstantiated and inflammatory claims made by the TWU. To date, the TWU has not provided any evidence to support any of its claims, despite repeated requests from ALDI to do so.
ALDI implements proactive measures to ensure that we exceed safe working conditions for all of our transport operators. Whilst we have always taken a safety first approach to our business, we have increased our focus and checks on these measures over the past 12 months. This heightened attention on safety across our supply chain has reinforced our view that the TWU’s claims are without merit.
Since ALDI first opened its doors in Australia, we have been committed to ensuring driver and public safety. We have in place a Safety and Corporate Responsibility Charter which is strictly enforced to ensure that our heavy vehicle transport services adhere to industry best practice. This Charter applies to all ALDI employees, suppliers and contractors providing transport services to us, and details our commitment and expectations to ensure driver and public safety.
We work alongside our drivers to develop safe and efficient route plans that help to reduce their total mileage. We also work with our suppliers to ensure realistic delivery deadlines. In addition to this, we have implemented streamlined booking and delivery arrangements at each of our Distribution Centres, which helps to minimise wait times and the impact on overall delivery schedules. Our rostering arrangements support safe driving hours and fatigue management practices, and our policies and processes are strictly enforced to ensure driver and public safety.
Drivers never need to speed or skip breaks to meet deadlines.
As part of enforcing safe working conditions for our drivers and the communities in which our drivers operate, ALDI participates in the National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme (NHVAS Scheme), and we operate maintenance and fatigue management programs for our fleet and drivers in accordance with the NHVAS Scheme.
The claims made repeatedly by the TWU in the last 12 months do not reflect the results of extensive audits conducted into our working conditions, which have reported that none of the alleged violations have occurred in our transport network. We have always closely monitored our transport functions through a comprehensive annual audit under the NHVAS Scheme to ensure we are complying in every aspect of our operations.
We want to reassure our customers and the public that ALDI takes the safety of our transport operators and the broader community very seriously. Each of our Distribution Centres has a qualified driver trainer whose role is to oversee and train all staff, as well as provide ongoing support for drivers. Our drivers conduct supervised exercises before commencing their shifts, and rest breaks are continuously monitored via software which helps ALDI ensure compliance with fatigue regulations under the Heavy Vehicle National Law. A review of data from this system indicates that ALDI’s compliance with rest breaks consistently and significantly exceeds the national industry average.
It is well known that we pride ourselves on paying our staff well. We employ our transport operators under Enterprise Agreements approved by the Fair Work Commission. The rates of pay set out for our transport operators compare favourably to the rates which would otherwise be paid under the Road Transport and Distribution Award 2010.
When it comes to the safety of our transport operators and the broader community, we have set ourselves a benchmark that exceeds industry standards. Whilst we can be proud of our achievement thus far, ALDI is always looking for ways to improve.
ALDI acknowledges our shared responsibility with others in the road transport industry to ensure ongoing compliance with transport laws. We will continue to work with our staff, suppliers, contractors and the wider industry to ensure a safe, productive and compliant heavy vehicle transport industry. The ongoing success of our business depends on it.