NZ transport union shuts down rumoured driver strike

In News3 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineAugust 25, 2021

Two of New Zealand’s major road transport unions have distanced themselves from Australian plans for industrial action.

Jared Abbott, FIRST Union secretary for transport, logistics and manufacturing, said the union did not support any plans for protest in New Zealand.

“FIRST Union members in the trucking industry have not voted for any strike action,” he told New Zealand Trucking magazine.

“We’re aware of anti-lockdown protesters attempting to recruit truck drivers online in Australia and New Zealand but they have almost no support among New Zealand truck drivers and certainly not from the union.”

Abbott’s comments come after suggestions in Australia of  a potential truck driver strike with one irate truck driver fueling plans to “shut the country down” with a protest on major highways.

Social media posts suggest protests are planned across Australia on Tuesday, August 31, but have gained little support in New Zealand.

A video circulating on social media shows a man encouraging Australians to stock up and buy food “for the next week, or two” because supply chains to stores would be interrupted by the strikes.

“It’s on, the trucks are doing it. Truckies are going to shut down the country,” the man says.

A social media post warning the public says food and other essentials would not make it to supermarkets as “all truck drivers all over Australia and New Zealand” will be protesting for the next 3-4 weeks.

However, FIRST Union has the support of  the New Zealand Dairy Workers Union – Te Runanga Wai U (DWU) which represents around 1,500 drivers employed in the New Zealand dairy processing and related industries, and as such represents the largest number of unionised truck drivers in New Zealand.

Chris Flatt, DWU National Secretary, said the strike rumours were concerning. “The DWU is not aware of any planned or co-ordinated industrial or strike action involving our transport members,” he said.

“The DWU is concerned that these reports may cause unnecessary disruption or panic amongst the public at this time, as the DWU and our members’ focus, as essential workers, is to continue the production and delivery of essential products such as milk, cheese, butter, and other dairy items to the public at this time.”

The Transport Workers Union in Australia has also distanced itself from the action.

TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said truckies were fed up with the federal and state governments.

“They are angry for a legitimate reason. The current testing regimen forces them to wait many hours, eating into already scarce time that should be used to earn an income.”