Road Transport Forum News

 
Industry open to Government accord

Industry open to Government accord

Road Transport Forum News

 March 2020    RTF News

Delegates at last year's Road Transport Forum Conference in Taupo may remember Transport Minister Phil Twyford discussing the possibility of the Government developing an accord with the transport industry, similar to what's been done with the construction sector.

In my opinion, progressing such an accord would be in the interests of both the industry and Government – and makes perfect sense when it comes to the importance of road transport to the country's economy.

The Construction Sector Accord was a response to the critical role that building and construction companies play in the provision of houses and infrastructure. The failure of a few big construction firms over recent times has highlighted just how vulnerable that sector is to external pressures.

The Government knows it can't build houses or upgrade our creaking infrastructure without private sector input and, for a government that has staked a great deal of its reputation on solving these issues, it really had no choice but to assist with the sustainability problems within construction.

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Delegates at last year's Road Transport Forum Conference in Taupo may remember Transport Minister Phil Twyford discussing the possibility of the Government developing an accord with the transport industry, similar to what's been done with the construction sector.
In my opinion, progressing such an accord would be in the interests of both the industry and Government – and makes perfect sense when it comes to the importance of road transport to the country's economy.
The Construction Sector Accord was a response to the critical role that building and construction companies play in the provision of houses and infrastructure. The failure of a few big construction firms over recent times has highlighted just how vulnerable that sector is to external pressures.
The Government knows it can't build houses or upgrade our creaking infrastructure without private sector input and, for a government that has staked a great deal of its reputation on solving these issues, it really had no choice but to assist with the sustainability problems within construction.
The accord, which was signed in April 2019, includes commitments from Government to help with more transparent management of the infrastructure pipeline and establishing stronger building regulations; with the industry tasked with addressing cultural and leadership issues as well as workforce capability and capacity.
Needless to say, when Minister Twyford raised the possibility of a similar accord with road transport we were very keen to pursue it. Unfortunately, since then it has been difficult to personally engage the Minister on it.
However, RTF is undertaking initial scoping work on what a future accord could look like with Ministry of Transport officials and I hope that the Minister will re-engage once that process is complete. We will keep the industry informed on its progress.
While RTF will welcome such an accord, it is yet another example of the almost schizophrenic approach that this Government has to road transport.
Last year we were given a boost on the immigration front with the announcement that Government is to negotiate with our industry the development of a sector agreement. This agreement, once formalised, will provide trucking companies with easier access to temporary migrant workers to alleviate our short-term workforce difficulties – in exchange for obligations from industry to reduce the overall reliance on immigration and invest in training and productivity improvement.
While not perfect, the sector agreement – once negotiated – will be positive for road transport operators. On the other side of the coin however, the Government is pushing ahead with its desire to impose Fair Pay Agreements or national awards on our industry.
Centralised wage fixing, which is basically what Fair Pay Agreements are, would be disastrous for the efficiency and productivity of our industry, make it difficult to hire new drivers in certain parts of the country and would become a substantial drag on the overall economy.
We are already dealing with the impacts of restrictive break time rules, inadequate roading infrastructure, unreasonably lowered speed limits….and then there's the possibility of cannabis liberalisation that could have serious implications for health and safety in the workplace.
At the end of the day RTF and other industry leaders are willing to discuss any options that would enhance the overall sustainability and efficiency of our industry. What we require from Government though, is a far more joined-up policy approach that combines useful immigration reform, workable employment relations settings and modern transport infrastructure that creates an environment that helps us to meet the increasing demands of the growing freight task.
Finally…don't forget, if you're in the Christchurch area on March 20 and 21, the 2020 TMC Trailers Trucking Industry Show is being held at the Canterbury Agricultural Park. The two-yearly show is one of the biggest of its type in the country and, with the addition of events like the TR Group New Zealand Truck Driving Championships, will be bigger and better than ever this year.
The UDC Show and Shine is the centrepiece of the weekend and I'm told there will be 400-500 gleaming trucks on display. There will also be a classic trucks showcase, a careers expo and a dinner and awards night.
I will be there for at least part of the event so if you see me around, come and say hi and have a chat about what the RTF has been up to on your behalf.


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