31 Jul 2013

Law change worries trucking group

8:54 pm on 31 July 2013

Trucking companies are worried their businesses will grind to a halt if the Government proceeds with a plan to remove drivers from the skilled worker list that allows the companies to easily employ foreign workers.

From February 2014, businesses will not be allowed to hire foreign drivers unless they have first attempted to employ a New Zealander.

The Road Transport Forum says the ability to move goods around the country is crucial to the wider economy and if there are not enough drivers to go around there will be widespread consequences.

Chief executive Ken Shirley says the Government wants his members to hire unskilled people from the ranks of the unemployed because it does not view truck driving as a skilled profession.

"You cannot put someone who is straight off the unemployment, who might not be work ready, in behind the wheel of a big rig worth half a million dollars with a million dollars of cargo and send them off down the highway. That would be a grossly irresponsible thing to do."

Peter Fletcher, from Peter Fletcher Transport, says foreign drivers are helping to meet a skills shortage and without them the Christchurch rebuild following recent damaging earthquakes would stop.

Mr Fletcher says he can't understand why Immigration New Zealand is willing to class dog groomers as skilled migrants, but isn't willing to do the same for truckies.