Hold, hold, hold, shake!

In Newsletter Editorial5 MinutesBy Dave McCoidAugust 27, 2021

As each week rolls around, you can’t help but think things couldn’t get any more absurd.

Forget the whole level 4 situation – let’s bring it in closer to home. Without question, the issues confronting our industry are plentiful. At the top of the list would probably be either headcount or the deteriorating state-highway network. No one is arguing it’s a tough old gig making any headway while we’re under a fundamentally antagonistic administration in terms of our cause, not to mention its supply chain understanding. However, considering the number of representatives our industry has – and their scope – neither could many argue the KPIs for their effectiveness have allowed plenty of scope for debate.

I’ve always argued that any change will only come from within the ranks. In any club, the membership ultimately determines direction; the voices at the top should reflect the dominant belief of the body below. Consider the scene this week then – some bloke on the other side of the ditch ‘blahing’ on via social media about rustling up a blockade in Australia, and while he was at it, he extended the invitation to New Zealand. I guess that’s what a global open-access comms network enables.

I suspect the root of his frustration was distribution chain paralysis and driver-welfare considerations during the NSW lockdown. It appears to be a repeat of every mistake made in every other jurisdiction worldwide that has found itself in the NSW situation. Including us. But the really perplexing bit? He got some traction here, to the point where the Beehive was apparently aware that something might be brewing. Again, it’s absurd that our troops are incapable of influencing the direction of their own representatives on home soil. Yet, some ranter in a foreign country tells them to jump and, all of a sudden, there’s a faction that looks like jumping jacks on the PT yard in Waiouru at dawn.

At New Zealand Trucking, we immediately played our bit, helping to try and stamp it out by contacting unions and key parties. They were all adamant they were neither implicated in any way nor supported such an act at this time (see news item here).

Those who read my editorials know there is no bigger supporter of the truck driver’s lot than me. You will also know I’m opposed to blockades as a means of protest at this time in history.

Of course our government, taking this on board, has pulled out all the stops and done its bit this week to quell any uprising in the short term, by slamming the door shut on service stations selling hot drinks and bakery food to truck drivers. The very people ensuring locked-down New Zealanders can access hot drinks and bakery food can’t have access to it themselves. At the time of writing, the words ‘hot drinks’ and ‘bakery food’ appear to define toilets also. And so, here we are again.

Comments received from the minister’s office state that MBIE makes the rules, and the issue is being raised with officials. Once again, it would appear it is a case of decisions made without inter-departmental consultation.

Let’s be frank; we are here as an industry because we’ve been too weak before this point. We’re movers, not shakers. No one in the Beehive goes, ‘Hang on, the truck drivers… let’s just think this through, if we piss them off…’ Fact is, they never think that, ever.

My plea, therefore, is twofold. Firstly, for the sake of families, friends, loved ones, the infirm, the young and elderly, do what it is you do and keep doing it. Now is not the time to piss off a nation and administration both largely ignorant as to what it is we do. You’re not seeing the farmers out on the tractors this week, after all? But they are scheduled to go again in a couple of months.

Second, once we’re out the other side, ensure the memory of our lockdown reality is not again lost. At that point it will be time to shake, not move.

All the best,

Dave McCoid