Fon­terra weight ban ‘sur­prise at­tack’

Piako Post - - OUT & ABOUT - LIBBY WIL­SON

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.

CHRISTEL YARD­LEY/STUFF

Seats in the two types of tanker Fon­terra uses can safely take a max­i­mum of ei­ther 140 kilo­grams or 150kg, the company says.

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