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Safety Issues Cause Trucking Crisis

Safety Issues Cause Trucking Crisis

The Government must address poor health and safety standards in the trucking industry, which are causing a serious shortage of drivers on both sides of the Tasman, according to a visiting Australian union leader.

John Allan, the Federal Secretary of the Transport Workers Union of Australia, is at the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions to work on joint union strategies to improve the pay and working conditions of drivers in both countries.

In April, a study by the Road Transport Forum NZ estimated a shortage of more than 1250 truck drivers, and said the industry can’t find additional drivers to meet the increasing demand for freight transport.

“There’s a shortage of skilled labour because it’s a tough industry, with little return,” John Allan said. “The threat is the same in Australia and New Zealand - many drivers work long hours for low wages, and there is scant regard for health and safety.”

Drivers are forced to speed and encouraged to take drugs to keep them awake long enough to meet delivery deadlines and make a living, said John Allan, who is also the chairperson of the Australian Trucking Industry Safety Council, a joint employer and union initiative to improve industry safety standards.

“If you improve safety issues, you make the industry more attractive to work in.”

In Australia, unions have worked closely with the government’s National Road Transport Commission to implement laws that ensure compliance and enforcement of safety standards for heavy vehicle traffic, throughout the industry.

“The New Zealand government should be legislating in the same way,” John Allan said. “Governments and unions should be working together to ensure consistency in transport legislation across the region.”

John Allan said the door to co-operation at a Government level is already open, as New Zealand’s Transport Minister attends the Australian Transport Council.

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