Truck drivers and families affected by heavy vehicle road trauma picketed the headquarters of Coles this morning, demanding the retailer sign up to a transport industry safety charter.

The Transport Workers Union (TWU)-organised event involved around 100 people at the Coles head office in the Melbourne suburb of Hawthorn.

The group presented “shopping trolleys of evidence” – printed coroners’ reports and witness statements – to the retailer’s management, before TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon demanded more accountability on its transport contracts.

“By cutting their transport costs they are ultimately responsible for practices which see drivers under pressure,” he says. “Coles: your contracts are killing people.”

The TWU is urging Coles to sign up to its Safe Practices charter for the retail sector.

Coles major competitor Woolworths has not signed up either but is “engaging” with the union over the charter terms.

Coles accepted the provided documents, but says the TWU’s “baseless, inaccurate, and offensive” claims were more about increasing membership than improving road safety.

“Coles takes the safety of drivers and other road users very seriously,” a company spokesperson says.

“Coles is a signatory to the voluntary Retail Logistics Supply Chain Code of Conduct, which sets out minimum standards of operational behaviour, and Coles ensures its suppliers and contractors are aware of and understand the code.”

Extracted in full from Australasian Transport News.