8 Jan 2011

Courier drivers don't need further regulation says Ministry

8:16 pm on 8 January 2011

The Ministry of Transport says there's no need to increase regulation of courier drivers, despite warnings that they're putting the public at risk.

The National Distribution Union says courier drivers could be putting themselves and the public at risk because of excessively long working hours.

The union says drivers have no other option, because companies are forcing owner-operators into unfair contracts.

A courier, Nathan Dodkin, was killed in a collision with a truck near Tariki, in Taranaki, two days ago.

But the Ministry's safety manager, Leo Mortimer, says regulations were relaxed four years ago because couriers weren't seen to be a risk.

He says it's more important to make sure drivers and employers are aware of their obligations, particularly those relating to driving hours.

Mr Mortimer says proposed changes to transport laws should make it easier for police to prosecute companies who pressure drivers to work excessive hours.

But the union's assistant secretary general, Karl Andersen, says many drivers are working in a way that's not safe, and effectively for less than the minimum wage.

"They're being forced to engage in unsafe practices by working far too many hours and not maintaining their vehicles to an adequate level because the contracts are not equitable."

"They present a danger to themselves and the public."

Mr Andersen says the union would like to see couriers required to keep log books of driving hours, and for the Government to oversee contracts between companies and owner-operators.