Logging truck roll overs meeting: Otaika Valley Hall tomorrow night!

Written By: - Date published: 12:06 pm, May 9th, 2016 - 19 comments
Categories: employment, exports, peak oil, public transport, sustainability, Unions - Tags: , , , ,

A steady stream of Northland logging truck accidents and roll overs in recent months have put locals on edge and made it to the national news media.

It has been reported that excessive speed, some of the lowest pay rates in the country and trucking companies accepting dangerously inexperienced staff have been core parts of the problem.

Of course, another part of the problem is that the National Government has taken it upon itself to continue to undermine the use of highly efficient and far safer rail transport, and instead increase the subsidies for heavy truck transport on our roads. LogtruckRatloncartoon

Northland’s Grow Rail lobby group has said that at this rate, tragedy is just around the corner:

Spokesman for Northland’s Grow Rail lobby group Albie Barr said local residents felt the situation was out of control and there had been talk of barricading Otaika Road. “They’re talking pretty drastic measures, and I don’t blame them,” he said. “The last truck that rolled on that bend, it happened at 2.30 in the afternoon, and there’s a school bus packed with kids that rocks along that road after three. But we’ve advised them not to take the law into their own hands. “Mr Barr said it was a matter of good luck, not good management, that no one had yet been injured or killed as a result of the rollovers.

He said log truck drivers were in some cases immigrants, inexperienced, or both, and under pressure. “They are poorly paid – they only get $16 an hour.”So the pressure is on them to do long hours, and to get in as many trips as they can from the forest to the port in a day.”

Growth in the use of heavy trucks to transport goods instead of rail has led to trucking companies importing labour from Fiji and the Philippines. A NZ trucking business owner said that these workers sometimes proved more reliable and more consistent than the Kiwi drivers he could find.

logtruckrolloverkidsflyer

Now Northland locals are organising to bring pressure on trucking companies and the authorities to sort this mess out, before more people face injury and

death under a logging truck.

The obvious answer is to clamp down on these road destroying logging loads  and to Grow Rail.

 

19 comments on “Logging truck roll overs meeting: Otaika Valley Hall tomorrow night!”

  1. Richardrawshark 1

    A nation divided is a nation conquered, don’t know who said that but poignant it is.

    While your all bitching about these miniscule trivialities in life, your missing the bigger fight altogether.

    United we stand, divided we fall is another poignant pearl of wisdom.

    Picking on logging truck drivers who are core voters isn’t really a win scenario whatever the outcome. Holding town meetings about it, as if they are the enemy is not a way to work with our own voters to solve the problem.

    IMHO

    • adam 1.1

      I agree about not picking on the truck drivers, but if the debate becomes intersectional, and the truck drivers become part of the solution. It could and would be a very welcome series of events.

      The needs of the truck drivers need to be aired as well. I know a few who won’t do that work because of the bad employment conditions. It’s the conditions, not the pay, the pay is bad all round.

      Speaking of bad pay, did you miss the bit Colonial Viper put in about the Truck Drivers piss poor wages?

    • Colonial Viper 1.2

      While your all bitching about these miniscule trivialities in life, your missing the bigger fight altogether.

      Did you read the bit where the recent logging accident may have taken out many local children in a school bus area?

      I guess that these are just the concerns of one local community but I’m pretty sure their attitude to your attitude would be “this is why we don’t bother voting for you. Go back to Wellington. We can sort this out ourselves.”

    • ge 1.3

      the drivers u talk about are not locals, do not pay tax and take their savings back to their own country, but never mind, ACC will pay for everything, thats the social contract, isn’t it?

  2. Dave Dudley 2

    I don’t think this article is attacking logging drivers at all, just read between the lines of what the Truck Company guys are saying, dumping on the poorly paid driver who they set up to fail. I have been driving big rigs for over 35 years (as an owner operator the last 10 years) and it is frightening what is going on in our logging industry.

    Thank Christ I am retiring before the weight limits come into effect, you think things are bad now, just wait till this stupid move happens. These ‘so called’ Industry experts like Ken Shirley are pushing for Heavy Licence changes and are trying to say this is a safe move, yeah pull the other one.

    The problem we have is inexperienced young fella’s behind the wheel, often driving old shit trucks, putting the acid on them to complete too many runs between the forest and the port. Driving 13 hour days. And that road up there where 2 have recently flipped is no place for some green horn to cut his teeth, miss a gear selection and your in big trouble and God help you if your anywhere near them on the road.

    • JanM 2.1

      Well said, Dave. I live around there, and it can get pretty terrifying. It’s not a small issue – it’s symptomatic of the disrespectful way we are all being treated. It isn’t, as you say, attacking the drivers – it’s the poor practices of the big companies in using insufficiently skilled drivers and breaking the rules around hours on the road

  3. save nz 3

    Good post – rail needs to make a come back and hopefully the opposition support more rail.

    Was talking to a guy who drove trucks for a living. He said he was only being offered $15p/h which he could not live on even though he was a very experienced driver. So maybe the transport goods employers are actually not prepared to pay and instead rely on subsidies like taxpayers paying for their roads and lazy immigration to pay close to minimum wages. Would be interesting to see the average and medium wages of truckers. If it is below the living wage – even though it is considered a ‘skilled job’ by their employeer the answer it there why they do not attract staff. If you can’t live on the wage then you will leave the industry.

    However it then becomes a problem for NZ tax payers who have to subsidise the minimum wages and pay for all the social security. The problem needs to be looked at in a holistic way and with the true costs to NZ taxpayers as well as the social costs of putting locals out of work and having them compete in an unfair system and the pollution that is increased because of all the subsidies. Rail can take a lot more logs at a time than polluting trucks.

    “Growth in the use of heavy trucks to transport goods instead of rail has led to trucking companies importing labour from Fiji and the Philippines. A NZ trucking business owner said that these workers sometimes proved more reliable and more consistent than the Kiwi drivers he could find.”

    • Colonial Viper 3.1

      To look after a heavy vehicle and 50 tonne of load speeding around our countryside, $21 to $25/hr plus penalty rates should be absolute minimum wage.

      $16/hr is an insult to Kiwi drivers.

  4. Skinny 4

    Well well look what I found. Natcorps Craig Foss catering for and dog whistle lobbying the party fateful for the New Zealand National Corporations largest political donator the Road Transport Forum, really hope Labour doesn’t take their blood money donations anymore.

    Old Dudley care to tell us a bit more about Ken Shirley since I detect a bit of a grudge. Come on you must know the inside story?

    With the spike in rollovers the oxymoron is the below quote, we must kill this death trap change being proposed by Shirley and his ilk!

    Mr Foss says “proposed changes to heavy vehicle licences aim to improve the availability of properly trained heavy vehicle drivers without compromising safety.”

    “This proposal is about balancing the heavy vehicle industry’s need for more drivers with government and road users’ high safety expectations. I urge anyone in the heavy vehicle sector to consider the options and make a submission,” Mr Foss says.

    https://www.national.org.nz/news/news/media-releases/detail/2016/04/19/Licensing-review-opens-for-consultation

    The link to the slyly written submission document;

    http://www.transport.govt.nz/land/driverlicensingreview/dlr-online-submission/

  5. Jack Craw 5

    The article, the concerns of the local residents, and the problem causing the whole issue, are not about criticising the drivers. In fact Northland drivers are lowest paid in NZ and should get collectivised to improve their lot. Yes some of the drivers are poorly trained and these will almost all be foreign workers, who are willing to work for the 3rd world wages on offer. If driver wages were any good then more NZers would be taking the jobs. Its typical of some employers to praise the immigrant drivers, because they work for less and can be bullied, so don’t be fooled by these comments. The Grow Northland Rail campaign supports drivers in their efforts to get decent wages and shorter hours, and end employer coercion to drive faster. I have had a heavy truck and trailer licence for 40 years and drove for a living many years ago, understand driver issues and tautoko their concerns.

    The issue is simply that there are far too many heavy trucks on our roads, and Otaika Valley is just one, possibly the worst, example. The science states that a 53 tonne truck does more damage than 10,000 – 160,000 cars (depending on road type) which essentially means 100% of damage on sealed roads. Yet trucking companies pay 46% or less of NZ roading costs. Every car owner is subsidising truck owners, and have to tolerate congestion, dust, serious safety issues and road works caused by trucks. If road user charges were fair then rail would be instantly competitive but oddly the government doesn’t care. The Road Transport Forum (ie trucking bosses) funds the National Party by $2M+ pa. This is why the Government insists that rail must be self-supporting, whilst hiding the fact that trucking isn’t self-supporting.

    We can expect some righteous anger from Otaika Valley and Portland residents at the public meeting. Some of them are talking about blockades during weekends and school travelling hours, imposing speed and truck number limits and even stronger action. There are secret cameras on the road already.

    And lets not forget what will happen when logging increases as scheduled over the next 2-5 years, and when/if the Otiria line closes later this year.

    There is a simple solution – force the Government to fund Kiwirail to reopen the Dargaville line; stop KR from mothballing the Otiria-Kauri line, complete the link to Marsden Point and upgrade the line to Auckland. Other regions have had their rail lines upgraded, Northland has had nothing but closures. Recent commnity concerns and political noises indicate that our regional gullibility has ended.

    Jack Craw
    Co-Director
    Grow Northland Rail

    • Barfly 5.1

      +100

    • Exactly. A simply wonderful example of Conservative ideology in action: profit before people.

      Well, the 99% of people. Good luck Mr. Craw.

    • Dave Dudley 5.3

      OK Johnny Cash here is a few things I know of. At the recent Northland National Party AGM, a pro rail group within the executive committee tried getting support for spending money on the Railway in Northland.

      More than anything they are getting it the neck from their supports and know if they are to have any chance of beating old Winnie they don’t need issues that are going to lose votes.

      The big problem they had was a councillor called Rose and the Far North district Mayor, and former MP John Carter who had the numbers to reject this move. There is a connection between the very powerful Road Transport Forum and these cronies.

      And as they say when it rains it pours in Northland. I heard on the RT a couple of hours back a young truckie forgot to flick his tailgate button, and also must not have bothered hooking over the gate safety chains. 101 stuff only a newbie does.

      And yes you guess it the same section of road the 2 trucks lost control along Otaika Valley road. Bring that up at your meeting Jonnny.

  6. Jenny Kirk 6

    This is a real issue up here in the north. No-one feels safe whenever they encounter the huge logging trucks – as Jack Craw says its not a dig at the truck drivers, its a demand that these huge trucks be taken off the narrow, winding roads that are the norm for the north.
    Logs really need to go by rail as much as possible, but instead the Govt is closing down the rail links in Northland. The Dargaville line closed recently, the Otiria line is due to close. A sheer waste of a real asset that could be used for transporting the logs instead .

  7. greywarshark 7

    The obvious immediate answer is for government to run some trucking workshops to teach drivers and present them to the trucking companies on a velvet cushion. Look at these fabulous sparkling NZ drivers which you say are like hard-to-find diamonds. Employ them because there will be no visas available for foreign drivers.

    Train hundreds of drivers over six months, and those who don’t get a job, give them further training in something else they could do which suits their abilities and mindset and will lead to decent work. Bloody government, do some structural planning and capacity building that you receive taxpayers money for. Get off your asses, and get some NZ drivers on their asses driving these trucks – doing a good job and helping to fund their families and communities with their pay.

    • Dave Dudley 7.1

      Took a bit of digging but I found this for you Johnny Cash. This is the case that excludes the Railway those Nat boys up North are talking about. Rattle snake talk for tapping the taxpayer and a spot of electioneering in the process. He’s good alright is Crash Carter.

      The Mayor of the Far North District Council John Carter says “they are developing a case to take to Government to address the issue of truck crashes in the region.”

      As for the slippery Stan Semenjackoff. The “or whatever” probably includes putting young fella’s through the cheap ‘crash course’ run by the Sallies and then putting them behind the wheel and learning the way Stan did back in the 1940’s.

      Logging truck operator and former mayor of Whangarei Stan Semenoff is blaming not driving to road conditions and speed.

      “We’ve got a handful of drivers that spoil it for the rest of the drivers. There is the odd handful that are inexperienced or whatever. You’ll find most accidents happen because [they’re] not driving to the conditions of the road.”

      http://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/news/national/northland-community-concerned-after-five-truck-rollovers-this-month/

  8. Clearly the REAL ISSUE here is the Govts strangling of Kiwirail while going overboard in agreeing to the wants of the trucking lobby.

    The trucking lobby is extremely well funded, makes donations to the National Party and Labour in the past.

    Ass. Minister of Transport, Craig Foss is absolutely promoting trucks over rail anyway he can. Even in his region, Hawkes Bay, he has continued to promote and support the closure of the Napier-Gisborne line. Because the line needed $5 million to reopen after some washouts.

    Severe underfunding of our rail network and truck safety issues are growing all over NZ and will come to a head at the next General Election.

    Unfortunately, while National takes donations from the trucking lobby, trucks will crash, people will die. Rail is there, people want it. People will vote over this issue.

    The Govt needs to commit to $1.5 billion annually to rail each year to bring it back upto speed we expect. Take that from the $4 billion being wasted on RoNS. The holiday highway Puhoi to Omaha baches can be chopped immediately.

  9. Reffery 9

    So I’ve seen a few logs on the roadside in the Waikato and Matamata/Piako Districts… It is far from appropriate that near miss incidents on the roads with these are not figuring in any kind of near miss/data collection.

    Thanks to the Transport Accident Investigation Commission http://www.taic.org.nz/ almost any near miss event throws into gear a thorough process that reports and declares findings and in part makes safety recommendations as outcomes from their work.

    Seems Rail, Aviation, and Marine are hog tied (yet held accountable which is good) when considering the lack of bureaucratic resolve from our esteemed leaders legislating surity for both New Zealanders and Visitors make the drive home safely.

    By the way, does Local Government New Zealand communicate in any way towards creating positive outcomes?

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