In order to keep supply chains open while the country is at the red traffic light setting, Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand has put out a desperate plea for truck drivers.
Chief executive Nick Leggett said the industry needed more drivers to keep up with demand.
“We know there are New Zealanders out there with licences suitable for a heavy vehicle who are not currently working as truck drivers. We are asking them to consider making themselves available to drive a truck in the weeks and months ahead as we face the wave of Omicron.”
Leggett said his organisation had been watching the impact of Omicron on supply chains in Australia, the United States and the UK and was aware of how the fast-spreading virus could decimate the number of available drivers.
“Thinking ahead, we are appealing to people who have a licence and relevant experience to let us know, so we can link you with transport companies in your area to try and fill gaps if and when the supply chain flow becomes critical.”
Leggett noted that the trucking industry was short of drivers pre-Covid-19, and that has only intensified as labour pressures increased.
Don Braid, managing director of Mainfreight, said the company was already making plans for the impact of Omicron.
“Of course we are worried. But we are pushing ahead to ensure we are as well covered as we possibly can be. Our teams are fully vaccinated, a great number of them have had their booster shots, and we are pleased with the operating protocols we had in place. We are taking a methodical approach,” Braid said.
Any drivers willing to work through this time can register their interest by emailing Transporting New Zealand. They will be subject to the normal screening and there are no guarantees of work.
The road freight transport industry employs 32,868 people and 93 percent of all freight moved in New Zealand travels via trucking.