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BIC advocacy efforts continue gathering steam

BIC National IR Manager Ian MacDonald shares with the bus and coach industry an update on how the recruitment and retention project is travelling

The Australian Public Transport Industrial Association (APTIA), the industrial arm of the Bus Industry Confederation (BIC), has embarked upon a significant project. Funded by its members and BIC, APTIA is looking to improve the image of public transport as an essential service so that a career in public transport becomes a more palatable option for people seeking employment.

The project will provide a toolkit for bus operator members outlining best practice for recruiting and retaining staff. It will also underpin industry advocacy to governments aimed at influencing policies to improve public transport’s image.

The project will also encourage education programs for recruiting and retaining staff, leaving a legacy for the industry to best promote public transport as an essential service for years to come.

To achieve these aims, APTIA has formed a Project Working Group consisting of members, while BIC has engaged industry consultants Navigate Work to develop the toolkit and help draft the advocacy position.

BIC has also engaged with independent marketing agency the Hero Co to develop a clear brand positioning for the bus industry. Over the past two months, the project team of Nikki Britt and James Mitchell from Navigate Work, Dominic Walsh and Bob Price from the Hero Co and Ian MacDonald have conducted meetings with stakeholders, travelling onsite to depots to meet with management, drivers and workshop employees across a variety of states.

These visits have included Translink in Queensland and Transport for NSW’s marketing team, while the project team has also chatted to the NSW Bus Industry Taskforce lead John Lee.

The team then met with Transport for Brisbane and Metro Tasmania, before seeing private operators across several states including Busways and Transit Systems. Professor David Hensher and Professor John Nelson from the Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies at Sydney University have also been involved.

Outside of these visits, the team also consulted American Public Transport Association (APTA) vice president Petra Mollet and Bus and Coach Association New Zealand (BCANZ) executive director Delaney Myers alongside a smattering of NZ bus operators and the Singapore-based operator ComfortDelGro.

The end goal is to create a tripartite transport solution, with the project team also meeting with trade union officials from the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) and the Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) to fulfil this intention.

Some of the issues raised include why recruitment and retention is currently failing and the restrictions on this process in the bus industry, as well as the intricacies of contract types and how this impacts an operator’s ability to recruit and retain staff. Working conditions have also come into focus, while the culture and accessibility behind companies is also a critical talking point.

Lastly, safety has also been continually reviewed to help make passenger transport an essential service in Australia. Meetings are now being held with the Project Working group to finalise the documents. There’ll be a significant industry launch of the toolkit and advocacy position manifesto. Following this, we’ll advocate the recommendations and educate the industry to support the implementation of the recommendations.

We hope to share more with you on this ongoing project soon.

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