Regulation of trucking required to prevent road carnage

The Maritime Union of New Zealand is backing calls to tighten up industry regulations to protect truck drivers and the travelling public.

Maritime Union General Secretary Joe Fleetwood says a report in the Sunday Star Times yesterday graphically outlined the dangers of over-worked owner-drivers pushed to the limits in an aggressive and competitive market.

“This is the reality of a individualized industry where drivers do not have the protections of union membership and are being exploited in a hyper-competitive environment by the big companies they contract to.”

Mr Fleetwood says that in the process the lives and safety not just of truck drivers, but of New Zealanders and their families on the road, are put at risk of serious injury and death.

Long hours, fast speeds and deferral of expensive maintenance on vehicles were all factors causing problems.

He says the Government push for more heavy trucks on the road, when combined with a deregulated industry, was a recipe for carnage on New Zealand roads.

Mr Fleetwood says the whole owner-driver model needed to be examined, as most owner-drivers were simply workers who had been pushed into a dependent contractor model.

Pay rates, hours of work and industry regulation all needed to be on the table for discussion, he said.

He says the Maritime Union would continue to push for a balanced transport strategy that saw the bulk of heavy and long distance cargo transported on coastal shipping and rail, rather than creating congestion and hazards through heavy trucking.

“The current Government’s obsession with heavy trucking is backward, socially irresponsible and environmentally harmful, and we need a new direction for New Zealand transport.”

The Maritime Union would be working with Labour’s Transport Safety spokesperson Darien Fenton on the issue.

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