Article from the Evening Post, Bristol, UK:Bristol train drivers urged to move to Oz
Friday, September 05, 2008, 08:00
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Train drivers in the Bristol area are being urged to apply for jobs in Western Australia on salaries of up to £52,000 a year.
The Australian Railroad Group (ARG) has placed an advertisement in the Evening Post seeking locomotive drivers because there is a shortage of skilled workers Down Under.
The company believes the prospect of a Mediterranean-style climate, an attractive salary and a booming economy will lure drivers away from credit crunch-gripped Britain.
A spokesman for Prior Recruitment, the firm recruiting for ARG, said Bristol had been targeted because of the rail freight depot in Barton Hill
He said there were as many as 30 vacancies for locomotive drivers with at least five years' experience willing to work a minimum of a 40-hour week.
The spokesman said: "Western Australia is going through a big boom phase, with natural resources such as oil and gas, and there is a shortage of workers.
"There are railways going in and mine sites going in. There's an iron ore boom in the north-west of the state.
"We're having to search far and wide for drivers. We've already tried Sydney, Melbourne and South Africa. The UK is the next port of call.
"The drivers could end up having to haul anything from grain to coal and other goods. The job would suit people in the UK who want a change of lifestyle."
Interviews will take place in Bristol and Manchester at the end of October. Successful applicants can start as soon as their visas and medicals are completed.
The spokesman said: "Some of the depots are on the coast and there are lovely beaches. There's an easy way of life and a climate similar to that of the Mediterranean. It's certainly a bit different to the UK.
"Hopefully, we'll get a good response and will get maybe 50 or 60 applications.
"We realise it isn't everybody's cup of tea, but the economic situation in the UK might make people think of their futures and consider working over here."
Andy Robertson, spokesman for the South West branch of the National Union of Rail, Maritime & Transport Workers (RMT), said experienced freight drivers working for EWS, which runs the depot in Barton Hill, earn between £35,440 and £40,500.
Salaries for the Australian jobs are between £35,000 and £52,000.
Mr Robertson said: "If I was in my mid-20s to early 30s and wanted a change, I would give it a go, but I don't think some of the older drivers would go for it."
Brendon Kelly, the RMT's regional director, said: "I imagine there's a percentage of drivers who are fed up with the British weather, like many of us.
"I've never heard of a rail company recruiting overseas before. If anything, I thought it would be the other way around because there was a shortage of train drivers in Britain after privatisation."