Reolian to submit imported labour application

Friday, March 4, 2011
Issue 1250, Page 4
Word count: 495
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

New public bus operator Reolian said yesterday that the remuneration packages offered to job applicants are “very competitive”, but at the same time also insisted on the need to temporarily import no more than 200 bus drivers from the Mainland.

Cedric Rigaud, General Manager of Reolian Public Transport Co. Ltd – a joint venture of French-based Veolia and Macau’s H. Nolasco –, disclosed in a press conference that the company will submit an imported labour application to the Government no later than today, even though the existing policy prohibits the use of non-local public bus drivers.

According to Rigaud, Reolian has received a total of 230 applications in the last few months and estimates that “in another week 200 drivers would sign a pre-employment contract with us”.

Although the number is only half what Reolian aims to recruit, Rigaud said it is a “satisfactory ratio” thanks to the “very competitive [remuneration] packages” the company has offered.

These 200 local drivers, of which “99 percent” come from the existing two bus operators or the casino shuttle bus sector, will be offered a monthly income of MOP 12,500 to MOP 13,500, including medical allowances and bonus, according to Rigaud.

“The income could go up to MOP 16,000 if working overtime,” he said.

Lawmaker Lam Heong Sang, representing the Macau Federation of Trade Unions, claimed on Wednesday that the primary reason for Reolian’s inability to recruit enough drivers despite numerous attempts is that the company offers a salary as low as MOP 9,000.

Rigaud defended yesterday that MOP 9,000 is the “basic salary”, adding that candidates with no D2 license (for driving heavy vehicles with over 25 seats) or related experience will be offered a lower remuneration.

Meanwhile, chair of the board of Reolian, Bruno Charrade, told reporters that “the image of bus drivers” in Macau is another reason why the industry is unable to attract new blood.

Charrade said the short-term solution is to import no more than 200 experienced drivers from the Mainland to work in Macau for “a maximum of two years”, while the company provides D1 license (for driving heavy vehicles with or less than 25 seats) training for local residents – preferably “women and young people” – who will eventually replace the non-locals.

The two executives have admitted that Reolian did not realise before bidding for the bus contract that the average age of local bus drivers is “as high as 55 years old” and that the Galaxy Macau resort project would delay its opening for one year which ultimately has increased the demand for drivers.

“Official data at that time indicated that Macau had 4,000 D2 license holders and thus we were confident that we could find enough drivers,” Rigaud said. “But only 17 of them showed interest to join Reolian.”

When asked whether Reolian could have done more thorough research on the local market situation before bidding for the contract, Charrade said: “When you start speaking [about] tenders, you can always do things better.”

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