Protest shows strength of a united voice

August 3, 2021 7:39 am

RTANZ Chief Operating Officer Simon Carson updates members on what’s been happening around the country over the past month.

Friday July 16saw 57 organised protests around the country where thousands of farmers, tradies, contractors, and a number of transport operators gridlocked many towns and cities across New Zealand. The Howl of a Protest showed our country the effectiveness of a single united voice and what that can achieve when taking on government policies, some of which are deemed unworkable. 

Groundswell NZ is not opposed to government action on policy such as improving freshwater quality or sustainable land use, but it wants the government to stay out of local policies leaving regional councils and working groups to identify improvements that can be made. It also objects to the new fuel tax on utes, as people working in transport and trades sectors do not have the luxury of an alternative low-emission vehicle to use for work purposes. It appears there is more to come on this should the government be unable to come up with a satisfactory response. 

To give members a heads-up on staff working inside RTANZ regions, recently RTANZ head office has been looking to recruit for positions catering toward membership management in Regions 2 and 5. Running Seek advertisements and listing roles with selected recruitment businesses has seen interest from a diverse cross section of applicants; however, only in small numbers. The chronic skills and people shortage we see as transport operators also extends deep into almost every industry across New Zealand. Nevertheless, the desire to recruit the right people into available roles continues at RTANZ. Please contact me should you become aware of individuals that may suit advertised RTANZ Industry Advisor positions. In Region 2, Graham Sheldrake has taken up a part-time role and has spent time visiting members in the North Island as he moves around Region 2. If you get time to speak with Graham, please let him know any industry concerns you may have which he is working to resolve locally, or feeding back to head office for resolution, or updates.

July also brought another round of wild weather and extreme flooding to the top half of the South Island. The deluge was felt the worst in Buller and Marlborough where the communities of Westport and other regional towns were left devastated after extreme rainfall damaged homes and businesses, while displacing hundreds of people. Farmers were also left counting the costs from lost stock. The storms also brought road closures, isolating towns on State Highways 63, 65, 6, and 7. 

RTANZ worked with Waka Kotahi to have the highways reopened and reconnect communities as quickly as possible. Unlike the recent floods across Mid Canterbury, this time there were no detours. Freight businesses unfortunately needed to wait out delays as waters slowly subsided when the extent of the damage became apparent. 

Floods caused extensive damage in the top of the South island in July.

The government has now passed the Holidays Amendment Act, which increases the minimum employee sick leave entitlement from five days to 10 days per year. Most employees who have worked for an employer for six months or more are entitled to sick leave if they, or a dependent, are sick or injured. Currently, employees are entitled to five days of sick leave per year; however, from July 24, this has increased to 10 days per year.

Employees will receive the extra five days when they reach their next entitlement date—either after reaching six months’ employment or on their sick leave entitlement anniversary (12 months after they were last entitled to sick leave). If any member requires assistance with further detail on what this means to you, or could use implementing the new requirements into their businesses, please get in touch with us.