Surge in sign-on bonuses for truckies


With the driver shortage showing now immediate signs of letting up, transport companies are becoming increasingly creative with ways to attract new staff.

A surge in sign-on bonuses in the east has been the most noticeable ploy of late, with as much as $5000 being offered to lure new recruits.

At the time of writing, keying in ‘truck driver bonus’ in the search box on Seek alone, results in 920 job options. 

DSE Trucks opened with a $2500 sign-on incentive that only required drivers to work 30 hours a week and stay until Christmas in order to collect.

That amount has now reduced to $500 (plus GST) for drivers of Sydney metro tautliners (4,6, 8 and 12 tonnes) and flat-tops with gates, as Christmas has drawn closer.

But Renee Howison, driver and customer relations officer, says the response is still encouraging, with the same caveats attached.

“They are ringing and are saying they’ve seen our ad on Facebook and seen the start-up bonus and how does that work,” she said.

“They only have to work for 30 hours and stay with us until Christmas.

“If they do that, Christmas week, we give them the money, and that applies to everyone starting with us up until November 25.”

Geoff Crouch, executive director at Wagga Wagga-based Ron Crouch Transport, says he’s never seen such a spike in the number of sign-on bonuses for drivers in all his years in the industry.

His company is offering a $2500 sign-on sweetener, which drivers qualify for after six months, and Crouch says the scheme is working.

“We also pay a spotter’s fee [$1500] if one of our existing drivers introduces someone,” said Crouch.

“I think it is making a difference.”

But even a generous bonus, isn’t always enough to plug staffing shortfalls, as McCabe Transport, the Illawarra-based interstate heavy haulage scrap metal specialists, are experiencing.

McCabe has $5000 up for grabs for new recruits, but officer manager Lana Mozer tell us that only one driver has qualified for the prorated payments under the scheme so far because they don’t stay long enough.

For the first 10 months of their employment, drivers receive an extra $500 per month in their pay, irrespective of what runs they are doing for the company.

“We’ve been running this [advertisement] for a good four or five months, and I’ve only had one driver paid so far on that bonus program,” she said.

Even though McCabe boasts an impressive line-up of new trucks, Mozer surmises that it could be the fact that the scrap sector isn’t seen as the most desired of fields, and the drivers they do employ skew a little older, due the nature of the work.

“Another thing that goes hand-in-hand with that is a shortage of mechanics as well.

“I think that’s adding to a bit of the pressure too because we have a backlog of sending off to different places to get the trucks fixed due to the shortage of mechanics.”

Mozer says she’s seen a general downturn in the number of people applying for roles, compared with this time last year.

“Twelve months ago on Seek I could have 30 emails in a two-day period for drivers applying. Now when we run it, we’re lucky to get 10.”

Crouch, the former chair of the Australian Trucking Association, adds that there is no easy solution to the driver shortage.

“We’ve just got to make our industry more attractive, and our individual companies more attractive so they are a destination where people want to work,” he said.

Crouch also believes it’s “an absolute necessity” for the federal government to allow more foreign drivers to work here.

“Subject to them meeting the appropriate standards and qualifications.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend