Fairfax NZ News has reported hundreds of overseas truck drivers currently living in New Zealand may be deported by February.
Plans are underway for Immigration New Zealand to remove truck driving from its Immediate Skill Shortage List (ISSL), leaving 403 overseas drivers without sufficient visas to stay in the country.
The proposed move has angered local trucking operators who believe the changes will leave them short of experienced drivers and put road users at risk.
Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse said truck drivers were being removed because they had been on the list for “a number of years”.
Mr Woodhouse said the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment would work closely with the trucking industry to identify skill needs and develop a plan for how to best meet those needs.
He also added that employers wanting to bring in migrant workers for occupations not listed on the Long Term Skill Shortage List (LTSSL) and the ISSL, or in the case of Canterbury, the Canterbury Skill Shortage List, could do so provided they had “genuinely searched for suitable qualified and trained New Zealand workers”.
“If the trucking industry can still not find drivers once they come off the list, they will still be able to bring in temporary migrants, so long as they have looked and were unable to find suitable New Zealanders first to take those jobs.”
The NZ Trucking Association and National Road Carriers have launched a petition calling on the Government to leave truck drivers on the ISSL and also add them to the LTSSL.