Statement re bus driver shortage claimed by regional councils
The below can be attributed to FIRST Union General Secretary Dennis Maga regarding a call from the Hawkes Bay Regional Council’s statement of a bus driver shortage in the region.
“We have concerns that this is the second Regional Council that has sent out a release on behalf of a bus company that is claiming a driver shortage. In January the Bay of Plenty Regional Council announced a driver shortage with NZ Bus. It seems to me that some bus companies are expecting Councils to step in and help when they cannot attract enough drivers when in fact it is the bus company’s responsibility to provide those drivers, the Council is their customer that has paid for a service and it is the bus company’s responsibility to provide that service.
But more importantly, I’m concerned that these particular bus companies do not seem to notice the obvious; there is a wage crisis in the bus sector and this is why no drivers are attracted to the job. We have bus drivers who’re worried about how they’re going to pay for the next power bill despite the fact they’re working a 40-hour work week or more. No one should be working a full-time week and not be able to pay the bills! What’s frustrating about this is that the solution is simple; lift wages in the bus sector because they are simply not liveable wages. Further, what has brought us into this mess; the Public Transport Operating Model (PTOM), needs to be abolished. Its competitive tendering model has resulted in tired, over-worked and underpaid bus drivers. We need a system in place that doesn’t reward bus companies on cheap prices alone, we need a tendering system that takes into account both the need for an efficient service and the need for decent pay so drivers can lead a decent life. Do away with PTOM and lift wage rates immediately because it’s only going to get worse.”