A significant fine handed down to a truck operator this week has prompted calls for the government to better regulate truckies’ working conditions, and to stop blocking a UN protocol on long work hours.
This week Dibble Transport was fined $21,000 in the Te Awamutu District Court after admitting its drivers broke laws regarding hours of work and rest breaks.
FIRST Union represents workers in transport and logistics, including truck drivers, and its General Secretary Robert Reid said that this week’s court decision reinforced the need for action on truck driver safety.
"Many truck drivers are owner-operators and their margins are constantly squeezed, leading them to take risks and compromise the safety of themselves and others on the road."
"New Zealand needs to follow Australia’s lead, which last year brought in stronger laws to make sure truck drivers do not have remuneration-related incentives to work in an unsafe manner."
Robert Reid welcomed comments this week by Road Transport Forum CEO Ken Shirley that fatigue was a core issue for drivers.
"New Zealanders work some of the longest hours in the world. Fatigue is the silent killer and maimer of workers across many industries, including very dangerous ones such as road transport and forestry."
Robert Reid said the union was disappointed to hear this week that the government was unwilling to consider maximum work hours rules to improve workplace safety, despite a call 8 months ago from the United Nations for this.
"Action on long hours and fatigue is desperately needed, and we are calling on Acting Labour Minister Chris Finlayson to reconsider the New Zealand government’s stance on this issue," Robert Reid said.