Trucking firms putting us all in danger to save a buck

Simon Collins appears to take some time off from Pimping the Poor by bringing you a story how the government is killing the transport industry. ?But as per usual, Simon only tells what he wants you to know:

Trucking companies say they are being forced to import drivers from overseas because of a desperate shortage of Kiwis.

A survey by the Road Transport Forum has found 112 companies have trucks parked up because of a shortage of about 400 drivers. The total shortage is likely to be much higher because only 230 of the forum’s 4000 members responded.

Forum chief Ken Shirley said it took at least three years for a local driver to progress from a basic car licence to a class 5 licence for heavy trucks with trailers, and companies were filling the gap with immigrants.

“Fifteen per cent of drivers in some fleets are foreign migrant workers.”

But the Government removed class 5 drivers from the skill shortage list for permanent residence last month in what Mr Shirley described as “a serious strategic error”.

“I think the message from the Government is that they want us to target the unemployed.”

Another government hit piece from Simon. ?You get to expect them.

Here is the other side to the story, as reported by Whaleoil Ground Crew member rantykiwi ?

So the trucking industry are whining about a shortage of drivers, and saying they have to recruit from overseas.

They identify part of the issue as the “over 3 years” it supposedly takes to get a Class 5 licence – but as usual they are lying.

If you’re over 25 then it’s a 27 month process, or only a few months if you do approved courses.

However there appears to be a loophole – foreign drivers from countries without any modern trucking industry or roads are being imported to fill this supposed skills gap and can obviously convert their Weetbix packet licence into an NZ Class 5 licence without any issues.

We shouldn’t be happy that someone with Fiji or India driving experience is allowed to navigate 50 tonne vehicles along our highways without NZ qualifications or experience – foreign car drivers cause enough mayhem in 1 tonne vehicles.

Sound to me like the trucking industry can solve their own problem: ?pay for people to upgrade their skill set. ?

Are they just sitting there hoping for people to get up from the couch?

Of course not – they’re happily using under qualified imported labour, causing both a drop in conditions for Kiwi drivers and a potential danger to the rest of us sharing the road.

The Government is not asking you to target the unemployed. ?They are asking you to sort your own industry problems out without importing cheap and underskilled labour.

Superficially our commenter is right and the fact the transport industry has allowed this vacuum of skilled drivers to develop can squarely be laid at their own feet. ?All the government is doing is stopping them from going for the quick and potentially dangerous fix.

However, road transport is the canary in the mine for the economy. If trucks are moving then so is the economy. With the global financial crisis the economy contracted so much so that ?many owner operators just shut up shop, and big firms retire out old trucks and hunkered down to ride it through.

The economy started picking up some 6-8 months ago and the trucking firms are hard pressed to keep up clearing the wharves. The former drivers they had who were laid off or not replaced during the GFC have gone to other places to earn a living, and so with the economy booming and freight needing moving there is a real shortage that the industry simply couldn’t fill in that short amount of time.

While Simon Collins would like to kick the government and our commenter wants to kick the trucking industry, in order to promote their own world views of an evil uncaring government and a vibrant rail network, they forget one thing…you still need trucks to get the freight from the wharf to the rail and from the rail to the warehouses and from the warehouses to the stores.

You simply can’t wave a magic wand and fix everything with a magic government spell, no matter how much wishful socialist thinking is applied.


– NZ Herald