Re-think needed to boost driving ranks
Posted: 13-May-2022 |


Employers throughout the land are crying out for workers and trucking is no different. It’s an employee’s market, so employers need to pull out all stops to ensure they have a workplace that will attract and keep workers. 

Transporting New Zealand has undertaken a number of initiatives to boost the workforce, including our industry-specific traineeship Te ara ki tua Road to success, which we started up a year ago.

Our members constantly tell us they have trucks parked up because they can’t get drivers and that access to drivers is an issue that keeps them up at night.

Responding to the workforce shortages brought on by people both getting Covid and having to isolate if they were household contacts of someone infected, Transporting New Zealand ran a six-week relief driver campaign with recruitment experts HainesAttract, through March and April. This was funded by the Ministry of Social Development industry partnerships team to support our industry. 

The campaign had the catchy “SOS Save our Supply Chain” tagline and advertisements ran across popular social media platforms. The campaign was also promoted through radio and industry media.

Our goal was to see how many people were out there keen to drive trucks and we were very pleased with the result. We have contact details for about 600 willing workers, almost all with some form of driver licence. This is encouraging for our industry. We are continuing to work through the list to try and match up drivers with employers and encourage some into the traineeship. If you have a need for drivers, email now (admin@transporting.nz) as we have a range of people who are prepared to do full and part time work on a permanent basis. 

The HainesAttract campaign attracted more than 1 million digital impressions across the various platforms. That is a successful profile-raising exercise for our industry.

Transporting New Zealand also recently launched the Driving Change Diversity Programme, sponsored by Teletrac Navman and the Australian Trucking Association. This is a ground-breaking initiative that will celebrate industry diversity, develop diversity champions, and improve industry image. 

We are doing everything we can to build up a future-proofed workforce, but times are changing fast, and trucking businesses need to be aware replacing their aging workforce will require some culture change from them as well. A younger, more diverse workforce means employers need to change what they do and how they do it.

We frequently hear people saying they don’t want to train someone up for the business down the road to take them. To that we say, why would they go down the road if you are offering good wages and working conditions? And if they do go somewhere else, because workers no longer stay with one company for their entire career, you have contributed to the greater pool of drivers and you may get them back one day.

One of the strengths of our industry is workers can be offered flexibility, and this is critical to attracting a diverse workforce. Unfortunately, we are in danger of losing that and will have to fight hard to keep it.

 The Government wants to move New Zealand back in time through its Fair Pay Agreements law, which we believe is bad news for workers and employers. In fact, we think it is anything but fair.

We don’t want to see a return to industry level awards where union bosses set the pay rates – and therefore, tell employers how to run their business. We believe Fair Pay Agreements will drive down productivity and make it harder for transport operators to employ staff and run a profitable business. It’s also likely to push drivers away from the industry because they won’t have flexibility to negotiate rates or pay increases directly with their employers. 

In this time of high inflation, employers need to be able to act fast and meet the market when it comes to wages and pay increases, not to sit around and wait for a wage award decided by unions.

We think this is a serious backwards step for employment relations in New Zealand and along with Business New Zealand, we will be voicing our concerns through the Parliamentary Select Committee process.

We urge employers to be aware of what these changes will mean and to take the time to tell the Education and Workforce Select Committee what you think. The Bill has passed its first reading and with a majority Labour Government, it will pass into law. Your only chance to voice your views is with the Select Committee and submissions close on 19 May. 

Transporting New Zealand will be communicating with members about this and you can find out more about the Bill and the Select Committee process here

  • Nick Leggett, CEO, Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand

 


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