The Transport Workers’ Union SA/NT Branch is slamming waste giant Cleanaway for pleading with the Adelaide Magistrates Court to spare them from adverse publicity and dismiss its own verdict, despite being found guilty for the 2014 horror South Eastern Freeway crash that killed two people.
The TWU is appalled that Cleanaway are asking for special treatment to ensure the least amount of “negative publicity possible”, after being found guilty for failing to provide adequate training and maintain the brakes of the vehicle involved in the horror crash.
Earlier this year, the Supreme Court rejected all grounds for appeal and upheld the finding that Cleanaway failed “to eliminate or minimise the risk” of danger to employees through inadequate training. However, the initial fine of $12 million was slashed to $3 million after the Court found six of the charges were too similar to be distinguished by law.
In 2018, criminal charges against the driver involved in the horror crash were dropped. The driver gave evidence in court that he had never driven a manual heavy vehicle or driven the notoriously steep freeway before the crash, and was not supervised to do so. An accident investigator also found the truck had faulty brake linings that should have been fixed prior to the crash.
TWU SA/NT Branch Secretary Ian Smith said Cleanaway is the largest waste company in Australia with a track record of cutting corners on safety, and it is outrageous that they are asking to be “spared bad publicity” after the devastation their actions have caused.
“Public and legal scrutiny of Cleanaway’s appalling practices is the least this company deserves. It is absolutely disgraceful that Cleanaway is asking the court to protect its brand and let the company off the hook after they were found guilty over the horror crash that took the lives of two people and left the driver of the vehicle, who was not adequately trained by the company, with lifelong psychological injury,” said Smith.
“Cleanaway should be taking accountability for their actions, and quite frankly it’s astonishing that after eight years of this marathon case – in which they have been clearly proven guilty – they have the audacity to plead with the court to ‘soften the blow’ to their public image. Its Cleanaway’s actions that have put them here and they need to pay the price, not beg for special treatment.
“The writing’s on the wall and the evidence is clear – this is a company that has cut corners on safety with deadly consequences. After the tragedy of the horror 2014 crash, Cleanaway should be doing everything within their power to improve safety and conditions, but instead they’re still trying to worm their way out. It’s absolutely appalling.”
This comes off the back of Cleanaway SA workers recently taking protected industrial action after enterprise agreement negotiations broke down over safety concerns. TWU SA members took action over grave concerns for the safety of workers and the public, as Cleanaway attempted to push through rostering changes that would inhibit drivers’ abilities to effectively manage fatigue and could increase the chances of serious accidents.