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Coles rejects claims it forces unsafe driving

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SUPERMARKET giant Coles has hit out at the Transport Workers Union, accusing it of baseless shock tactics in a political campaign to influence Labor's Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal.

TWU Queensland secretary Peter Biagini, as part of an election campaign push to increase pay for the nation's truckies, said the industry was in crisis with truck driving now "the most dangerous job in Australia".

"Relentless economic pressure from the big gorillas in the transport industry, clients like Coles, is forcing truck drivers to meet impossible schedules and unrealistic deadlines at dangerously low rates of pay," Mr Biagini said.

"A shocking 40 per cent of drivers in the Coles supply chain admit to delaying essential maintenance due to economic pressures. Right now truck driving is the most dangerous job in Australia, with a death rate that is 11 times the average for all other workers."

Mr Biagini said that companies such as Coles used their "economic power to push safety down its supply chain and the results can be lethal".

A Coles spokeswoman said the retailer vigorously rejected the claims, which she said lacked evidence. "Coles recognises the importance of road safety," she said.

"The TWU's ongoing claims about Coles are baseless and they consistently fail to produce evidence to support these claims. In no way do our contracts force drivers into unsafe or illegal practices."

The allegations came as the national regulator set up by Labor received submissions from industry groups to its first draft Road Safety Remuneration Order.

The Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal has pushed ahead with a round of consultations before the draft order is given the force of law, despite the opposition pledging to "urgently review" the body if it won government.

A submission by the Australian Long Distance Owner & Drivers Association said industry was concerned about more red tape.

"After reading the draft order this concern of having more legislation forced on to our industry appears to be becoming a reality and something this already strangled-to-death-by-legislation industry needs, not unlike some individual needs a terminal disease," the submission said.

As The Australian revealed in April, the states and territories have refused to cede power to the national regulator.

Source: The Australian

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