Undergroundnetwork


The roads are trucked! by underground

Whilst I support the right to protest and agree with why they were protesting, I can’t help but think that the truckers’ protest yesterday was overly disruptive and irresponsible. Yes, it did put a lot of pressure on the government to recognise their concerns, a government that has ignored public opinion on various issues, but did everyone else have to be disrupted? Even emergency vehicles were affected. I’m glad I wasn’t working, as I would have had to get up much earlier to catch a bus that would only take me half way! However my main concern is the environmental cost of such a protest. How much diesel was consumed and how much pollution was produced? I’m all for protest and disruption, but surely a simple strike would have had the same affect? If no trucks were on the road, government would have to pay attention. Long live the humble strike!

Herald online responses were generally sympathetic to the truckies and accommodated the protest, although many pointed out the damage trucks do to the roads and the need to offset this with road users charges. I do agree to some extent, however these extra charges are only going to be passed on to consumers anyway through higher prices for goods. Families are already struggling and social agencies and charitable organisations’ resources are worryingly stretched (link to story not yet published by Herald…). Considering the vital part their labour plays in our economy and our way of life, surely government should pick up the bill and pay for fixing the roads. Of course we still then pay, but those who drive those trucks for long hours, often through the night, should not be the targets of the charges. And the end of the day, more should be done to 1) give the truckies better working conditions, shorter hours, better pay, 2)get commuters of the road and into public transport (current initiatives fall short) and 3) speed up the transition of all vehicles onto sustainable and environmentally friendlier fuels.

So with Labour sliding down the polls, how is another deluge of unpopular attention going to affect the party’s fortunes come election time? Kiwiblog’s David Farrar made a good point:

“Just had a verbal report from Auckland on the Truck protest. I am told that the Motorway between Auckland and Papakura is stacked full of trucks for the entire 25 kms. This is an estimated 4,500 trucks in Auckland alone. That is a lot of pissed off voters, many of them traditional Labour voters.”

I have to agree. It really does make you wonder who is there left to support the party, now that the traditional base is feeling alienated. Workers jobs are being lost, either through cost cutting or automation, and Labour’s proud record on employment is under threat. Although most of the stresses on the economy are from overseas occurrences out of the control of the government, many think the surplus Labour created and the prosperous economic times of a few years back have been wasted. The party has often put its arse on the line to support good but unpopular legislation, but there is only so much unpopular legislation a government can push. It appears almost inevitable that National will be elected, not for being an inspiring pleasing alternative, but for not being Labour. Labour is well and truly trucked!

(I was not too sure which headline to go with for this post. I had “For trucks’ sake”, “I don’t give a truck”, “What the truck?”, “Trucking mayhem”, “We’re all trucked”, and “Driver’s are trucked off”!)

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