Wellington, April 22 NZPA - National MPs on Parliament's transport select committee have blocked an inquiry into the link between truck safety and low rates of pay, Labour's Darien Fenton said tonight.
Ms Fenton wanted the committee to hold an inquiry and she said National had used its majority to stop that happening.
"It's very clear from the evidence of the drivers who have come forward that there is a significant safety problem in the industry," Ms Fenton said.
"The method of contracting for owner drivers and the resulting low rates of pay mean that many truck drivers are driving too fast, working hours way beyond safety levels and cutting back on maintenance to earn a living."
Ms Fenton said that with one truck-related death a week and a social cost to the economy of $400 million in truck-related crashes last year she was surprised the Government was "prepared to look the other way".
She said she was going to launch a petition and draft a member's bill to promote greater fairness in contract negotiations so that truck drivers could earn a fair and decent living.
"I'm encouraging truck drivers to come forward to tell their stories -- good and bad," she said.