KiwiRail workers are considering a ban on working with contractors because of concerns they may be working excessive hours.
Rail and Maritime Transport Union members yesterday held an emergency stopwork meeting at the Hamilton network depot to discuss workers' concerns over the alleged health and safety breaches.
KiwiRail regulations stipulate that workers can work an "absolute" maximum of 14 hours.
RMTU organiser Phil Spanswick said the union had been approached by contractors claiming they had been bullied into working more than 14 hours.
"One guy claims he became so fatigued that his vision became blurry while operating a heavy digger."
"Fatigue and machinery are a dangerous mix and we have real concerns for our members' health and safety."
Mr Spanswick said union delegates were in the process of getting affidavits from within the industry and would present their claims to KiwiRail chief executive Jim Quinn.
"If our concerns are not resolved we will consider a ban on members working with contractors," he said.
Mr Quinn said KiwiRail did not condone staff working excessive hours other than in exceptional circumstances and had mechanisms in place to prevent it occurring.
"We have been made aware of one previous case in Waikato where a contractor worked in excess of 14 hours and this was dealt with by management at the time. An audit of the contractor was completed that showed no systemic issues on working hours."
Mr Quinn said KiwiRail had offered to attend yesterday's stopwork meeting to address workers' concerns but was declined entry, and denied access to the content of the meeting.
KiwiRail has announced it will cut 181 staff nationally as it works to trim $200m from its budgets over the next three years
Meanwhile, NZ First MP Brendan Horan said the safety of two rail crossings in the Waikato had been compromised because of rotting wooden sleepers.
KiwiRail has confirmed 7000 of its imported wooden sleepers are defective and need replacing.
About 55 decaying sleepers have been identified in Waikato.
Mr Horan said some of the rotting sleepers were at the Ruffell Rd rail crossing, in northern Hamilton.
"KiwiRail have a network that's in urgent need of repair and the last thing they need to be doing is cutting staff," Mr Horan told the Times.
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