Wellington Scoop

Not only bus drivers

There’s not only a shortage of bus drivers. The Wellington City Council told us last week that there’s also a shortage of drivers on the rubbish trucks.

When our recycling wasn’t collected last week, the council explained cheerily:

Unfortunately they have staffing shortages at the moment but are training new ones so issues should be resolved soon. In the meantime we, and they, appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding during this challenging time.

Such blather (on behalf of “we” and “they”) assumes that everyone is being patient and understanding as scores of uncollected recycling bags are being blown around in the street.

NZ Bus and Tranzit New Zealand continue to advertise for bus drivers.

NZ Bus is offering $22.75 an hour plus overtime and allowances.

Tranzit say their rates for qualified drivers are from $23.00 per hour upwards.

The advertising for rubbish truck drivers offered a guaranteed 40-hour week and a sense of pride. But there was no mention of the hourly rate.

Here’s the offer:

A week of on-the-job training with an experienced operator to show you the ropes.
Starting and finishing work in the same location each day, always be home for dinner.
An early start to beat the traffic (between 5 – 6am each day).
Guaranteed 40 hours a week Monday to Friday, often more and with Saturday work when there’s a public holiday in the week.
Ongoing training and development, most of our Class 2 drivers progress to Class 4 within 6 – 12 months of joining. We encourage and support progression for our drivers.
A company issued phone to complete electronic versions of your driving logbook and daily vehicle condition check.
A place on our fast-growing team where your safety and compliance with driving rules is paramount.
A feeling of pride in delivering an essential service to our community and working for an organisation that is innovative and value focused.
Latest technologies on board trucks for navigation, communication, and job confirmation.
Opportunities to drive different types of trucks and operate different types of collections. Never get bored!

They’d no doubt prefer us to forget that when the rubbish collection was owned by the council, the trucks were a two (or more) person operation, one to drive, the other(s) to collect the rubbish. But times changed, and the council lost control. These days, one person has to do it all.

And also, lest we forget: our rubbish collection company is owned by a Hong Kong billionaire, who is one of the world’s richest men. Something to remember next time the recycling isn’t collected because he hasn’t employed enough drivers.


  1. Brian Dawson, 29. November 2021, 15:39

    It’s good that you pair up the bus driver shortage and the rubbish truck driver shortage, because in reality it’s the same shortage. You can add to that drivers for all heavy vehicles, right up to the class 5 B-trains. There has been an international shortage of heavy vehicle drivers for some years now, so it’s not so much about not employing enough drivers, it’s finding enough drivers to employ (preferably without lowering the bar too much). As for why there’s a shortage, well it’s easy to blame wages and that’s definitely part of it, but actually there’s a fairly lengthy list of contributing factors. One thing we can be reasonably sure of though is that both the waste and the bus companies are going to be chasing the same staff for some time to come.

  2. Sandor Biczo, 30. November 2021, 10:44

    If someone was to ask me to pinpoint a cause for the shortage of drivers (and the desparate shortage of tradespeople of all kinds in Aotearoa/New Zealand) I would direct you to 1984, and the introduction of neoclassical economics in New Zealand by a Labour government.

    Previously, businesses of all kinds had the spare capacity and spare resources to train the people they needed, which contributed to the greater pool of skilled people throughout the country.

    Since 1984, businesses of all kinds want experienced people who are able to hit the ground running, in a work sense. It’s the famous quote; ‘…they want experience, but nobody is willing to give it to you.’

    So has the wholesale application of neoclassical economics been good for Aotearoa/New Zealand as a whole? I am one of those that does not think so…in fact, quite the opposite.

  3. David Famularo, 30. November 2021, 14:33

    I think what puts people off driving buses is that they have a long break in the middle of the day which makes their work day very long. Hours need to be structured like any other job – eight hours work with an hour for lunch in the middle.

  4. bsmith, 7. December 2021, 20:06

    Is the shortage of any of these drivers because they are unvaccinated?

  5. Traveller, 8. December 2021, 16:17

    There’s an embarrassing number of council recycling bags blowing round in Brooklyn today. A reminder that the overseas-owned rubbish collection company doesn’t have enough drivers. It’s a super-rich company. It could easily afford to have two-person teams on each truck (as was the case when the council owned the system) which would speed up the collection, with or without a driver shortage.