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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 August, 2005, 17:22 GMT 18:22 UK
Polish answer bus driver shortage
A Stagecoach bus
Stagecoach needs to find up to 300 drivers by May 2006
Transport group Stagecoach has been recruiting bus drivers from Poland as it expands its operations in the UK.

The first group of 20 Polish staff is due to start work on routes in Cheltenham and Manchester this week.

Stagecoach, which employs about 15,500 drivers, denied inadequate pay rates, cost-cutting or a skills shortage were behind the move.

It said it experienced difficulties "from time to time" in recruiting drivers in areas of low unemployment.

Stagecoach, based in Perth, Scotland, said it did not have "any significant shortfall" in its operations in the UK.

It plans to recruit 100 Polish drivers by the end of the year.

Union support

These are among the 250-300 new drivers it needs to find by May 2006 to help it achieve its UK expansion plans.

Stagecoach said drivers recruited from overseas would receive the same pay and conditions as their British-born counterparts.

They could expect to earn a basic wage of 7.50 an hour compared to about 2 an hour in Poland, a spokesman said.

The company said trade unions supported the move and that the drivers would undergo comprehensive training and a 12-week English language course.

Stagecoach UK bus service performance director Bob Montgomery claimed the company was offering attractive pay and conditions packages to encourage people to become bus drivers.

"Those measures are proving successful and will be enhanced by an additional stream of skilled, experienced employees from Eastern Europe," he said.

Stagecoach said it has been working with a Warsaw-based consultancy firm to take advantage of a surplus of trained drivers in Poland following the privatisation and rationalisation of the country's bus industry.


SEE ALSO:
Jams force firm to add more buses
14 Jul 05 |  Gloucestershire
Bus workers vote to go on strike
31 May 05 |  Nottinghamshire
Commuters' fury at bus route axe
12 Apr 05 |  Wiltshire
Stagecoach fortunes get into gear
08 Dec 04 |  Business


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