TWU takes safe rates message to New Zealand

TWU takes safe rates message across the ditch to help New Zealand union’s attempts to reform trucking pay rates

By Brad Gardner | October 26, 2012

A New Zealand union trying to rally support for changes to trucking remuneration in the country is drawing upon the Transport Workers Union’s (TWU) experience with its safe rates campaign.

TWU Assistant National Secretary Michael Kaine will today deliver a speech to an assembly of industry, union and government representatives on the newly-created Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT).

Kaine will also provide a briefing to the FIRST Union on the TWU’s highly successful safe rates campaign, which played a key role in the Federal Government deciding to establish the tribunal.

Kaine’s speech will cover the reason for the RSRT’s establishment and its powers, while the briefing session with FIRST will include the steps the TWU took to raise community awareness of unsafe practices in the trucking industry.

"They’ve expressed interest in seeking legislative change which would have the same benefits. They want to hear from about how we went about it. It will be then a question for them about if or how they choose go about it," Kaine says.

FIRST Union Secretary Karl Anderson says NZ drivers are forced to work long hours due to inadequate remuneration. He says legislative changes are needed to make sure drivers are paid enough to do their jobs safely.

"Truckies work in an industry that drives down their margins, leading them to take risks and compromise the safety of themselves and other road users," Anderson says.

"They work very long hours and face significant disruption to their family time. They shouldn’t also have to work in an unsafe environment and put themselves and others at risk."

While he backs a form of safe rates legislation, Anderson says any law must be adequately supported by strong enforcement that holds the supply chain accountable.

"Australian legislators have taken the lead on this issue, and we will continue to raise this in New Zealand also," he says.

Kaine says the market dominance of the retailers in NZ combined with insufficient protections for owner-drivers operating there are pushing down rates.

"Retail’s having a field day over there," he says.

"Certainly on the surface, there seems to be a good case for New Zealand to look at this seriously."

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