Retailers blamed for 1st Fleet foundering

Tony Sheldon

According to Tony Sheldon, national secretary of the Transport Workers’ Union (TWU), the recent decision to appoint an administrator to trucking firm 1st Fleet highlights yet again the squeeze on the supply chain by the major retailers.

“With the recent appointment of an administrator to oversee trucking firm
1st Fleet, employees and owner-drivers at the company face a dark and uncertain future,” Sheldon declared. “The company has been shortchanging its workers for several months now and many owner-drivers have more than two months of wages and contracts outstanding. Employees have not been paid for over a week.

“The company has been guilty of not paying superannuation on several occasions, an issue TWU workplace representatives have called it up on,” he added. “This is clearly a company that does not take its responsibility to its workforce seriously.

“The issue was only brought to a head when workers at the Smithfield depot in Sydney refused to commence work until management gave them answers on their unpaid wages and their futures.

“The difficulties faced by 1st Fleet are another warning sign to the Government and the Australian community about the danger posed by the unfettered economic power of major retailers such as Coles.

“Road transportation is forecast to double over the next 20 years, yet companies are going bust, wages are static or declining in the industry and heavy vehicle accidents continue to kill more than 300 people each year.

“Major retailers are putting the big squeeze on the supply chain, wringing it dry and pocketing the profits. This affects everyone, from truckies to farmers, small businesses and communities.

“Until such time as companies such as Coles are required to treat their workforce and the supply chain with some dignity we will continue to see jobs lost, companies bust
and sadly more trucking tragedies on our roads.

“Our workplace representatives within 1st Fleet will be engaging with the administrator to explore all options for keeping the company operating and ensuring that unpaid wages, contracts and superannuation are paid to everyone in the workforce,” Tony Sheldon concluded.