London bus co goes a long way to fill skills gap

Bus company London Central and London General is considering recruiting
staff from Barbados, China and Australia to combat high staff turnover.

Operations director John Traynor said the company has been negotiating with
the Barbados High Commission about driver recruitment as a possible way to help
combat driver shortages.

The company is not recruiting from abroad at present, but Traynor believes
that once the economy picks up it may be necessary.

Another problem Traynor is facing is a lack of affordable housing in London.
He told delegates at the Guardian Conference on Key Workers last week that 150
of the firm’s drivers live in bed-and-breakfast accommodation paid for by the
company.

He said the company has managed to cut staff turnover from 45 per cent to
25-30 per cent over the past two years through flexible working initiatives.

The company has introduced a variety of rosters, including one for people
with school children, another for Muslims who want religious days off, and
another for those wanting to work long hours.

He said: "We build work patterns around people. It’s about what we can
do for people. If they want to work a four-day week they can."

He added that shiftwork, and stress through working conditions and dealing
with customers, also contribute to recruitment and retention problems, although
recent pay awards have helped.

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