Kiwi bus company applies to bring workers in from overseas

Kiwi bus company applies to bring workers in from overseas
Photo credit: File

A countrywide driver shortage has one of our largest public bus operators looking offshore to plug the gaps.

Ritchies Coachlines has made an Approval In Principal (AIP) request with Immigration New Zealand to recruit 110 migrant workers.

Bus and Coach Association chief executive Barry Kidd says it's a last resort move.

"At the moment there is a real shortage of bus drivers," he says.

"Bus operators are finding it difficult to recruit sufficient staff. Our estimate at the moment is that we're probably around 200 bus drivers short in Auckland."

Mr Kidd says increasing demand in both the tourism and public sector is mounting pressure on our transport systems.

The position of bus driver is not included on any of the skill shortages lists.

Ritchies Coachlines CEO Andrew Ritchie says his company is always looking at different ways to hire staff.

He says the company's AIP request is just one avenue, along with hiring through Work and Income.

Immigration New Zealand is considering the request and consulting with external parties on the availability of any New Zealanders to do the work.

Operations Manager Tim Shepherd says employers must demonstrate they cannot find suitable workers in New Zealand.

Mr Kidd says the Government's Public Transport Operating Model (PTOM) is aggravating the shortage.

The Ministry of Transport contracting model allows local councils to award public transport contracts to private operators offering the lowest fee.

"I don't think anyone anticipated there being so much change of operators," Mr Kidd says.

"That's lead to new operators needing to recruit and train staff. That's caused at least short term shortages, which is exacerbating the existing shortage."

Minister of Transport Phil Twyford has asked for research into the effect of PTOM on employment conditions.

"There is also a broader evaluation of the model planned; I am waiting to see that evaluation," he says.

The Ministry of Transport research is due back later this year.

Newshub.

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