Discount supermarket Aldi has lost a Federal Court case against the Transport Workers Union (TWU) in which it claimed that the union had engaged in “misleading and deceptive conduct”.
On Friday, the court dismissed Aldi’s charge but acknowledged that in some instances the representations were at least “likely to mislead”. The court also dismissed the claim relating to injurious falsehood.
The long-standing legal battle between the two began in August 2017 when the retailer failed to get an injunction to prevent the TWU from protesting and speaking out about Aldi.
The TWU made a number of claims toward Aldi, including that its drivers were pushed to drive long hours, skip safety procedures and operate faulty trucks. The supermarket refuted these claims.
In April last 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. However, the retailer dropped a number of key charges prior to the conclusion of hearings in October.
“This case shows that companies like Aldi will try every law in the land to shut workers up but eventually the truth comes out,” TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said in a statement.
“We will now write to Aldi asking them to meet us and discuss how they can make their supply chains safe. We hope they will take us up on this offer and help save lives.”
Kaine said the case threatened freedom of speech but Aldi denies suggestions that it attempted to silence union workers.
Despite the loss, Aldi said the team felt “vindicated” with the judgement.
“It has clearly been stated by the court that the TWU’s conduct has been misleading and deceptive. The judgement also acknowledges evidence that Aldi has made several attempts to engage with the TWU and they have not responded to our offers,” Aldi said in a statement.
“The court also recognised the quality of our transport safety procedures. We do the right thing in our transport operations not because of pressure from outside parties or to meet regulatory requirements, we focus on the highest safety standards because it is consistent with one of our company’s core values- Responsibility.”
Aldi said it was disappointed “that a legal technicality appears to allow the TWU to pedal lies and mistruths”.
The TWU signed an agreement with Coles to improve supply chain standards and a separate charter was signed with Woolworths.