One of the issues facing all diesel workshops is that of getting and keeping workshop personnel. Those kinds of issues are particularly prevalent in areas like the Pilbara, where there’s a largely itinerant workforce.
The ups and downs, as well as the massive pay checks, of the mining boom has lead to a much more itinerant workforce in the Pilbara. There has been a lot of ‘grass is greener’ moves as technicians picked and chose the best pay and conditions on offer. Many of these people have now moved on and the return of places like Karratha to a more normal economy has also lead to ubiquitous issues like skill shortages.
“There’s not too many people about,” said Luke Priddis, Workshop Manager for Karratha Earthmoving. “It’s trying to get the right people, with the right skills which is hard. Some of the people think they can do the job, but it’s a step too far for them. We need to make sure the service is done properly here. If it fails out on the Port Hedland job it’s a 1,000 km drive there and back to fix a small problem. We haven’t had our own apprentices here, but it is something we have been talking about.”
Work can vary quite a lot for the workshop. At the time of Diesel News’ visit the number of hours the workshop is open has been cut back. However, when the work is going flat out for the business, it can get to the point when no-one gets a day off.
Once Luke finds the right people to handle the task at hand, he finds they do stay for the long haul and don’t keep flitting like they have in the past.
“We have people who stick around in the workshop,” said Luke. “Karratha Earthmovers are good people to work for.”