Free­ing up freight crit­i­cal to re­cov­ery

New Zealand Truck & Driver - - Front Page -

THE COVID-19 CRI­SIS HAS PRE­SENTED the Road Trans­port Fo­rum with some sub­stan­tial chal­lenges over the past two to three months. None of th­ese, of course, can com­pete with the chal­lenges faced by our mem­bers and those within the wider in­dus­try that have been strug­gling to keep trans­port busi­nesses go­ing in a pe­riod of sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced de­mand.

One of our big­gest tasks has been con­vinc­ing the Gov­ern­ment to take a prag­matic ap­proach to the treat­ment of non-es­sen­tial freight. Ini­tially a con­fus­ing ma­trix of ad­vice meant that busi­nesses were told they could re­ceive and un­pack non-es­sen­tial goods….then they were told they couldn’t. And fi­nally it was con­firmed that they could.

This cre­ated a huge amount of un­cer­tainty right across the econ­omy and it was frus­trat­ing to have to go through the process of ex­plain­ing to Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and min­is­ters just how dif­fi­cult it was from our in­dus­try’s point of view to op­er­ate just with es­sen­tial freight.

The sup­ply chain, we ar­gued, only works if all the links of that chain re­main in­tact: Try to re­move non-es­sen­tial freight and the whole sup­ply chain will break down, creat­ing bot­tle­necks that will in­evitably lead to es­sen­tial freight be­ing held up also. Keep­ing the sup­ply chain in­tact also meant that busi­nesses who re­ceived that freight were in a much bet­ter

po­si­tion to open to cus­tomers as we moved down through the alert lev­els.

RTF also un­der­took an ex­ten­sive amount of work with New Zealand Trans­port Agency of­fi­cials on gain­ing re­lief for op­er­a­tors around com­pli­ance and tech­ni­cal is­sues. We are par­tic­u­larly pleased that trucks and trail­ers that are in a safe con­di­tion will be able to op­er­ate without a valid CoF and won’t be sub­ject to CoF in­spec­tion un­til Oc­to­ber 10, 2020.

How­ever, we do ad­vise op­er­a­tors to have their CoF in­spec­tions car­ried out at their ear­li­est op­por­tu­nity to avoid the high de­mand for in­spec­tions as in­spec­tors deal with the an­tic­i­pated back­log.

Where we didn’t have so much suc­cess was in re­quest­ing the Gov­ern­ment re­duce RUCs dur­ing the Level 4 and Level 3 lock­downs. We strongly made the point that this was an over­head that, if al­le­vi­ated, could be very ben­e­fi­cial to many op­er­a­tors dur­ing what are very tough times.

How­ever, Min­is­ter of Trans­port Phil Twyford cited the other forms of as­sis­tance be­ing pro­vided to busi­nesses and the loss of RUC rev­enue to the Na­tional Land Trans­port Fund as rea­sons why the Gov­ern­ment did not sup­port this pro­posal.

I must say, through this cri­sis I have been pretty dis­ap­pointed with many in our news me­dia and com­men­tariat who have pre­vented much-needed de­bate over the Gov­ern­ment’s re­sponse to COVID-19.

We can be thank­ful that in many re­spects our Gov­ern­ment was quick to act and when it did it made some de­ci­sive de­ci­sions that may well have saved NZ from the fate of some of the more badly-af­fected coun­tries around the world. How­ever, that does not mean that they have got ev­ery­thing right – and nor would one ex­pect them to.

Op­po­si­tion and dis­sen­sion are ac­tu­ally ex­tremely im­por­tant parts of the demo­cratic process and can play a very con­struc­tive role in high­light­ing ar­eas of ne­glect and parts of the Gov­ern­ment’s re­sponse that need im­prove­ment.

Un­for­tu­nately, we have de­vel­oped a main­stream cul­ture so syco­phan­tic to the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion that op­po­si­tion to de­ci­sions has, more of­ten than not, been shouted-down and in many cases ridiculed.

The fact is there are im­por­tant ques­tions that need an­swer­ing, and you can be sure when it comes to the freight task and the fu­ture of our econ­omy, that RTF will keep ask­ing them.

Fi­nally, I just want to pro­mote an in­no­va­tive pro­gramme re­cently de­vel­oped by NZ Trade and En­ter­prise. It is an on­line mar­ket­place for NZ busi­nesses to match of­fers and re­quests for re­sources – for in­stance, those who have no work can get in touch with those who do….but are short of the work­ers to nec­es­sar­ily do it.

It’s a good idea and cov­ers the freight sec­tor, so if you think that could be use­ful to you, go to nz-mar­ket­place.nzte.govt. nz


HUN­DREDS OF OP­ER­A­TORS AROUND THE coun­try have con­trib­uted to an ex­tremely im­por­tant work­force sur­vey re­cently car­ried out by RTF. “The sur­vey was be­gun just be­fore the COVID-19 lock­down and, while the tim­ing was not ex­actly ideal, it was re­ally im­por­tant that we pushed through and com­pleted the process,” says RTF’s Nick Leggett.

“I re­ally want to thank those op­er­a­tors who, in an ex­tremely stress­ful pe­riod, took some time out of their day to com­plete the sur­vey and con­trib­ute such valu­able in­for­ma­tion.

“The data is be­ing used to demon­strate to Gov­ern­ment the ex­tent of the work­force is­sues within our sec­tor and will help guide so­lu­tions that the in­dus­try looks to put in place and any as­sis­tance we may get from Gov­ern­ment to do this.”

RTF is en­cour­aged that a high pro­por­tion of sur­vey re­spon­dents de­clared an in­ter­est in par­tic­i­pat­ing in an in­dus­try cadet­ship. Over the last cou­ple of months quite a bit of work has been done with MITO on the de­sign of the pro­posed scheme.

“The ob­jec­tive is for the cadet­ship to be flex­i­ble, so that it is rel­e­vant to the va­ri­ety of ca­reer path­ways em­ploy­ees may seek to fol­low in our in­dus­try,” says Leggett.

“This in­cludes hav­ing mul­ti­ple en­try and exit points within the scheme.” The cadet­ship will broadly com­prise three stages: Foun­da­tion skills, tech­ni­cal skills and busi­ness skills. The Level 3 Com­mer­cial Road Trans­port Skills pro­gramme is seen as a foun­da­tion en­try qual­i­fi­ca­tion for most peo­ple to en­ter the cadet­ship scheme.

Says Leggett: “We are look­ing at hold­ing one or two ap­pli­ca­tion rounds to en­ter the scheme each year. This will in­clude an on­line ap­pli­ca­tion form to be com­pleted by the trainee ap­pli­cants and their man­agers.

“Ap­pli­cants will then be short­listed, with an in­ter­view con­ducted by

RTF and MITO per­son­nel. Suc­cess­ful ap­pli­cants will be in­ducted into the trainee­ship at a se­ries of re­gional func­tions.”

The train­ing it­self will be mostly fa­cil­i­tated in the work­place, with MITOap­proved com­pany as­ses­sors pro­vid­ing the on-job prac­ti­cal train­ing, over­see­ing the the­ory learn­ing and set­ting the train­ing stan­dard.

The­ory work, in­clud­ing videos, in­ter­ac­tive sim­u­la­tions and on­line the­ory as­sess­ments, will be com­pleted via eLearn­ing. Re­al­time re­sults and progress re­ports will be avail­able, through MITO’s on­line por­tal, to both the work­place su­per­viser and the trainee.

“Im­por­tantly, trainees will be guar­an­teed a min­i­mum of 40 hours per week of work, at or above the liv­ing wage,” says Leggett.

“The in­ten­tion is also to set up a sys­tem of men­tors who can sup­port the trainee through the pro­gramme and com­ple­ment the on-job learn­ing sup­port that the learner al­ready re­ceives.”

Ex­pe­ri­enced in­dus­try men­tor ad­vis­ers will help learn­ers through tech­ni­cal com­po­nents of the pro­gramme that they are strug­gling with. Com­pany men­tors will pro­vide trainees with a se­nior com­pany per­son to turn to for ad­vice and sup­port. This could be their su­per­viser, work­place as­ses­sor or an­other se­nior em­ployee.

Iwi men­tors will be avail­able in some re­gions to work along­side the com­pany men­tors and in­dus­try men­tor ad­vis­ers, to pro­vide ad­di­tional pas­toral sup­port with an iwi fo­cus.

“While it can be dif­fi­cult in the midst of the COVID-19 cri­sis to fo­cus too far into the fu­ture, it is im­por­tant that we take proac­tive steps to mit­i­gate the se­ri­ous longterm work­force is­sues in our sec­tor,” says Leggett.

“This scheme, I be­lieve, can play its part in do­ing that, but it will be up to op­er­a­tors to get on board.”

More in­for­ma­tion on the road freight cadet­ship will be made avail­able to in­dus­try in due course.


The sup­ply chain only works if all the links in the chain re­main in­tact

by Nick Leggett Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Road Trans­port Fo­rum NZ

RTF has been work­ing with Janet Lane’s team at MITO to de­velop the Road Freight Trainee­ship

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