Greek cabbies hail taxi plan

first_imgA plan to recruit up to 1000 drivers from Greece to meet Melbourne’s chronic shortage of taxis is underway and has been received eagerly by Greek cabbies. Organised by the newly-established Australian Taxi Academy, Greek citizens who want to ply their trade in the Victorian taxi industry will be offered free training and mentored by experienced local drivers. The initiative has been developed by an alliance of taxi operators, including Taxilink and Ambassador Taxis. Taxilink director Harry Katsiabanis told Neos Kosmos that the response from Greece has been dramatic. “We’ve had over 50 enquiries from Greece already, the phone hasn’t stopped,” said Mr Katsiabanis. “Being a Greek Australian I wanted to do what I could to help those in Greece who are facing great difficulty with the economy and employment.”Mr Katsiabanis said the move to find the next wave of immigrant drivers from Greece followed changes to the Australian Government’s visa arrangements for Indian students, which have drastically reduced the number of taxi drivers from the sub-continent. “They don’t have to be taxi drivers in Greece, they can be anyone who can drive and who want to make a new start here.” Taxilink’s director said that the major hurdle in realising the plan would be sorting out what kind of working visas the recruits could have, as the taxi industry is unable to utilise employer-sponsored visas. The most likely route for recruits will be through the student visa scheme which allows for 20 hours of paid work per week.Mr Katsiabanis’ message to drivers in Greece is: “If you’re prepared to work hard and want to make a rewarding life for yourself, the taxi industry is a great opportunity. Come and join us.” The plan has been met with approval by Melbourne’s cabbie community. Mr Tasos Revis, the former managing director of Cabways described the initiative as a “fantastic” idea. “They will need to be trained, but most should have the English language,” said Mr Tavos who has worked in the industry for more than 50 years. “In this country, it’s always the last migrants who drive cabs, so before we had Greeks, Italians, Lebanese, Turks, it’s always the last migrants because they are less demanding.” Owner-operator George Bobbopoulos also welcomed the plan. “With Greek drivers I think the customer service would be better than it is at the moment, said Mr Bobbopoulos, who has been a cabbie for nearly fifteen years. “The more drivers we bring in from any part of the world the better, and the Greeks have a better chance of fitting in than others have. “If they really want to work and want to pull their finger out, they need to find the right people here, learn and take it from there.” Anyone interested in becoming a cabbie in Melbourne should go to: Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img

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