Tanker drive leaves trucks driverless

ALEXIA JOHNSTON AND AUDREY MALONE
Last updated 05:00 24/05/2014
truck drivers
JOHN BISSET/ Fairfax NZ
RECRUITMENT DRIVE: Lead driver Paddy Moore and team leader Max Turner gear up for a Fonterra Clandeboye open day.

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Fonterra will have to poach drivers from other companies to fill its 65 tanker operator vacancies, an industry representative says.

Road Transport Forum chief executive officer Ken Shirley said Fonterra's recruitment drive would have a flow-on effect in the industry because people could not just be pulled off the street and given the keys to a milk tanker.

Only people with a H5 licences, allowing them to drive a heavy combination vehicle, can drive the milk tankers. He believed it would take five years to get training, experience and competency in the role.

"The only thing [to do] is to poach them from another operator," Shirley said.

"I understand Fonterra's dilemma, but all they can do is cannibalise the pool of drivers [and] that will only cause problems for other people."

He said the global shortage of competent and qualified H5 licence holders had already put pressure on the industry. Extra pressure was added by the

Government earlier in the year when it removed truck driving from its Immediate Skill Shortage List.

Shirley said 73 per cent of companies recently surveyed confirmed they had a driver shortage. Some have trucks parked up because they cannot get drivers. "It's very serious."

The issue was particularly severe in Auckland and Canterbury, he said.

ProDriver Training manager Peter Robertson said part of the problem was the industry was not attracting the younger generation.

Working towards a H5 licence is also a lengthy process, particularly for people under 25 because they have to wait six months between each class of licence. Over-25s must wait three months between each licence.

Robertson said the cost involved was possibly another offputting factor.

People would need to invest $2500 to get from class two to class five.

He said he was not surprised by Fonterra's recruitment drive.

"The bigger they grow the more drivers they are looking for every year. It's a very good drawcard for a very experienced operator who's had two, or three, or four years at that top level - it's a very attractive package . . . but the thing is, where does the rest of the industry pick up 65 drivers?"

FONTERRA TO MILK OPEN DAY FOR DRIVERS

Fonterra's Clandeboye plant is looking to add 90 jobs to its payroll in the next year.

Tomorrow it is holding an open day for those interested in the 65 truck driving positions available for the new season. They are a combination of permanent and contract roles.

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Clandeboye is one of the region's largest employers.

It employs about 840 staff, including 212 truck drivers, over three shifts.

This was the first open day held at Clandeboye for recruitment.

However, a spokesman for Fonterra said it held an open day at the Waitoa plant, in the Waikato, last year.

That event aimed to fill six factory positions and a couple of hundred people turned up. "Obviously we aren't expecting the same response but it would be nice," he said. A combination of favourable weather and increased farm conversions to dairy meant there were greater amounts of dairy product to transport.

The South Island had a 16 per cent increase in milk collection from last season.

Fonterra was looking for people with a class five licence. Ideally they would have had 12 months driving experience and great customer service skills as they would be "the face of Fonterra at the farmgate".

The tanker operator day will be held at the old school next to Fonterra Clandeboye tomorrow from 10am to 2pm.

The extra 25 fulltime jobs will be at the $75 million mozzarella plant upgrade which is due to be completed in 2015.

- The Timaru Herald

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