Chief Operating Officer Simon Carson updates members on plans for the year ahead:
Hello members. Although 2021 is only just over a month old, everything seems to be back in full swing.
Seminar committees have been working on putting together two quality seminars for members around the middle of the year. It’s encouraging to hear the comments from members keen to see RTANZ seminars return to both the North and South Islands after COVID restrictions last year meant these could not go ahead. The content is coming together well so please keep a look out for more details.
The recent announcement that mining conglomerate Rio Tinto intends to keep the Tiwai smelter open until December 2024 came as welcome news for the Southland economy. When it was announced last year that Tiwai would be closing due to high energy and transmission costs, this was a serious blow to Southland. Commitment now from Rio Tinto to keep running the operation at full production through to 2024 means security for the majority of jobs within the business. The overall demand on the supply chain will keep transport operators busy, with the decision to remain open providing consistency for power supply to a large catchment of the South Island until late 2024. The new deal between Meridian and Rio Tinto should provide more certainty to the people of Southland.
Recently, questions have been asked of the association, and what we are doing to support the submission for roadside drug testing. As this is a national submission, RTA and RTF are working to back proposed change to the Drug Driving Amendment Bill. A comprehensive submission on behalf of industry will be lodged by the Road Transport Forum by the end of February 2021 and will reinforce the Roadside Drug Testing submission RTF has already completed on the “Road to Zero”. Whilst businesses are still expected to manage their personnel through policy, the new bill, if successful will place a legal obligation on the authorities to better manage the network. The submission will be published and made available on the RTF website once complete.
National Truck Driver Appreciation Week is back for 2021. Supported by RTA , RTF and Truck and Driver magazine, this will be taking place and attended by the RTA team of Senior Industry Advisors at various locations around the country during the week of February 22 to 28. Delayed due to COVID, this is the perfect opportunity to acknowledge the critical role played by truck driving professionals in keeping our economy moving. The dedicated men and women of the road transport industry very rarely ask for anything, but during this week in February it will give us a chance to finally say thanks for all they do, especially over the past 12 months. Truck drivers really are the driving force of our economy. Members will be advised what RTA has planned around the regions for drivers, with the information being available through our website and the RTANZ Facebook page.
While on the topic of drivers, since work recommenced for 2021 there have been many drivers contact RTA seeking work in various regions, and transport sectors across New Zealand. The communication from drivers often comes to us lacking information such as where the person is seeking work, and the type of work sought we do our best to match employers with employees. Keeping an active eye on Seek over the past six to eight months, the average number of driving roles available around the county, across all classes, is often in excess of one thousand at any one time, so the demand for truck driving professionals is not going away. The reopening of borders to migrant workers is still a long way off, and whilst we cannot look to the migrant workforce to provide a permanent solution to the industry shortage, it may provide some relief to filling roles associated with the increasing freight task.