Echoing deep concerns raised by public transport operators, waste and freight companies across the country are calling on the Government to review immigration settings in order to address severe driver shortages.
Simon Bridges, Chair of both the Waste Management Industry Forum and the Auckland Business Forum, says the challenges faced in waste and freight resonate closely with the issues recently raised by Auckland Transport, Environment Canterbury and Greater Wellington Regional Council in relation to bus driver shortages.
“Waste operators from Kaitaia to Invercargill are struggling to fill hundreds of driver vacancies, and the situation will only get worse as Councils start offering new services, like collection of food scraps. Nationwide, we’re likely to need as many as 1000 more drivers to operate an expanded fleet over the next few years.
“Operating a waste vehicle is extremely complex, and we don’t have anywhere near enough drivers in the country with the required skills and experience.”
Mr Bridges says waste businesses are severely stretched, and it’s taking a toll on the health and wellbeing of staff at all levels.
“Existing staff are working crazy hours to pick up the slack, and this comes at a massive cost – I’m hearing reports of burnout on a scale never seen before.
“It’s completely unsustainable, and if we don’t find a fix, the result will be cut-backs to the services offered – ultimately, it’s going to mean wheelie bins left on the streets for extended periods, which is something no one wants to see.”
Meanwhile, Mr Bridges says there are currently over 8000 vacancies for freight drivers throughout the country, and the sector faces an impossible task to keep up with demand.
“When freight can’t keep up, it impacts on economic activity and efficiency right across New Zealand – every business in the country will feel it, no matter how big or small.”
Like public transport operators, waste and freight sectors are calling on the Government to adjust immigration settings.
“Put simply, we need to make it quicker and easier to bring in highly skilled drivers from overseas,” says Mr Bridges.
“The drivers are out there, but at the moment, other countries are attracting them. We need them here, and we need them as soon as possible.”
Meanwhile, waste and freight operators plan to set up a working group to explore how, through collective action, training of new drivers can be accelerated.
About the Waste Management Industry Forum:
The Waste Management Industry Forum represents New Zealand’s larges waste collectors and sorters, who together oversee close to 85% of the waste and recycling stream in New Zealand. Its membership includes:
• Enviro NZ
• Green Gorilla
• JJ Richards
• Northland Waste
• Oji Fibre Solutions
• Smart Environmental
• Waste Management NZ
About the Auckland Business Forum:
The Auckland Business Forum is a group of Auckland-based business organisations formed to advocate for greater urgency around the planning and delivery of the Auckland transport programme. The group was formed out of concern for a long-running decline in the standard of Auckland’s transport infrastructure, and the subsequent impact on productivity and quality of life. The Auckland Business Forum’s membership incorporates broad-based user and industry perspectives on transport issues, and consists of:
• Auckland Business Chamber
• Civil Contractors New Zealand
• Employers and Manufacturers Association (Northern)
• National Road Carriers Association
• New Zealand Automobile Association (Auckland District)
• Ports of Auckland Ltd
For more information, contact:
Chair, Waste Management Industry Forum, Auckland Business Forum
M. 021 322769