Fonterra weight ban ‘surprise attack’
Fonterra drivers who weigh more than 150 kilograms face a mandatory stand-down.
One Fonterra worker called the weight restriction - which could affect as many as 50 drivers - a surprise attack.
However, the dairy cooperative says it has been working on the problem for months.
Driver seats in Fonterra tankers are at the heart of the issue - one tanker type seat can accommodate a maximum of 140kg and the other 150kg, the company said.
Retrofitting stronger seats and fittings isn’t an option and some drivers – understood to be two – had already been told they exceeded the limits and were to be offered alternative duties.
Word got out before the company had finalised plans with the union and, according to one driver, had workers around the country worried.
‘‘It’s almost like a surprise attack,’’ said the driver, who wanted to remain anonymous.
‘‘They haven’t given those guys an opportunity or a heads-up so they can begin, if they choose to, to address their weight.
‘‘You don’t want a guy on the road running a 46-tonne with other s... on his mind.‘‘
He understands the safety issues with seat weight ratings, but said Fonterra had accepted the drivers through a stringent recruitment process.
Furthermore, despite annual medicals for all drivers, he said being weighed isn’t part of the
‘‘We're not about to go, that's it, you're out of here.’’
medical. Fonterra owed it to the drivers to at least help them lose weight before the policy is officially rolled out, he said.
Fonterra doesn’t want to send anyone packing, general manager of national transport and logistics Barry McColl said.
‘‘[The affected drivers] are good people who have done a good job ... We’re not about to go, that’s it, you’re out of here.’’
The company, which also said no suspended driver’s pay would be affected, found out retrofitting bigger seats in tankers wasn’t possible because the cabs weren’t designed for them.
Fonterra presented what it hoped would be its final version of the plan to the union, McColl said, and that included communication strategies and Fonterra-supported individual wellness programmes.
Anyone who can’t get back into the driver’s seat would be offered another role without the safety restrictions.
Seats in the two types of tanker Fonterra uses can safely take a maximum of either 140 kilograms or 150kg, the company says.