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Aldi drops a number of charges against TWU

Discount retailer Aldi has dropped a number of charges in its Federal Court case against the Transport Workers Union (TWU) before hearings concluded in the Federal Court this week.

Aldi informed the court that it is no longer accusing the union of trespass, nuisance or secondary boycott in relation to TWU protests outside Aldi stores, and has dropped the charge of damage to reputation as an employer of choice.

The discount grocer is, however, still accusing the TWU of misleading and deceptive conduct.

The Federal Court action began in August 2017 when the retailer failed to get an injunction to prevent the TWU from protesting and speaking out about Aldi. In April this year Aldi announced that it was taking the TWU to the Federal Court over what it said is a string of false and misleading claims.

The TWU has made a number of claims toward Aldi, including that its drivers have faced harassment when they have raised concerns over fatigue with management.

However, the supermarket has refuted these claims and said it will let the courts determine the matter.

“As an Australian business employing thousands of people, we will not sit idle while our practices, people and professionalism is misrepresented in the most crass and callous of manners,” the retailer said in a statement at the time.

Inside FMCG contacted Aldi about the decision to drop key charges but the retailer would not comment on the case as it is ongoing.

“We will happily provide comment at the conclusion of the court case, but while the matter is before the court, it is our preference to respect the proceedings,” a spokesperson for Aldi told Inside FMCG on Friday.

Last week, the union released footage and stills showing safety doors blocked, fire equipment restricted, poor food storage, exposed electrical wiring and flooding around a loading dock.

The TWU indicates that these images are “evidence of how safety is being put at risk” at Aldi but did not reveal its exact source.

TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said in a statement on Friday that the retailer should drop the case altogether and sit down with the union and truck drivers to discuss and resolve the alleged safety issues.

“This case has been continuing for two long years and during that time even more revelations have come to light about problems in the Aldi supply chain,” Kaine said.

“Aldi may have deep pockets which allow it to mount legal cases to try to silence us but we will continue to fight for the right of drivers to speak out.”

The hearings have now concluded and Justice Flick is considering the case.

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