20 Feb 2020

Trucking firms urged to keep staff on and not sell assets amid coronavirus downturn

7:40 am on 20 February 2020

Trucking firms are being urged to hold onto their staff for as long as possible with the promise work will return once the coronavirus threat subsides.

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Photo: ivantsov/123RF

National Road Carriers Association chief executive David Aitken said they expected the industry would slow as less goods were able to be imported and exported.

He said trucking firms would feel the squeeze, but was urging them to do all but lay off staff or sell assets.

"This coronavirus will blow over at some stage and things will go back to normal so what we're saying to them is - be prepared for that.

"Try and keep all your infrastructure in place so that when it does turn around they've got the ability to handle the freight task that's going to be there at the end of it."

Aitken said firms should look at alternative ways of getting through.

"Whether that is getting staff to take leave over this period, reducing the hours down to, say, four-day weeks until things pick up again. Look at other things they can do around their businesses [like] maintenance."

He said firms should also be open with their bank or financiers.

"This is going to put a lot of pressure on some businesses financially ... so they need to keep communicating with them."

He said some companies were already making changes to cope with the changed workload.

"We've talked to a company who deals with a lot of freight-forwarders whose business is down 40 percent so that's going to have a big effect.

"We have heard in the forestry sector that there's companies cutting down to four-day weeks. So they're definitely starting to make plans around it."

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