NZ union want safe rates

New Zealand transport union says the country should follow Australia’s lead in passing safe rates legislation to protect truck drivers

June 19, 2012

A New Zealand union representing transport workers says the country needs to follow Australia’s lead in passing safe rates legislation to protect truck drivers.

Speaking in the wake of the recent Austrans operation which uncovered drug use among New Zealand truck drivers, the FIRST Union says laws should be introduced to end pay systems which encourage drivers to commit unsafe practices.

Australia has passed the Road Safety Remuneration Act, which will establish the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal on July 1.

The tribunal will have the power to act on practices that encourage unsafe behaviour and set pay rates and conditions for employee drivers and owner drivers. The tribunal will be free to mandate paid waiting times and hear disputes between drivers and employers.

FIRST Union Secretary Karl Andersen says New Zealand needs to introduce similar legislation and that the union will run a seminar in September to push its campaign for change.

"Owner drivers are under immense pressure to make a living. Many are tied into contracts that their boss can change at will, that demand outputs that cannot be met without compromising the safety of themselves and other road users," Andersen says.

"This leads to drivers taking short cuts, running bald tires, breaking driver regulations, and in some cases using stimulants to get through."

The FIRST Union is an amalgamation of the National Distribution Union and Finsec. The unions joined on October 1 last year and represent workers in the finance, industrial, retail, stores and transport sectors.

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