Bus operator Abellio seems to have ignited the fury of several of the tabloids after it was revealed that the company had flown bosses all the way to Poland in search of drivers for its London buses.
The Daily Mail criticised the company – which, it pointed out, is subsidiary of the Dutch state rail operator – for turning to Poland to recruit 51 London bus drivers when almost two and a half million Britons are currently on the dole.
Abellio claimed it could find no suitable candidates in Britain – though an insider at the firm reckoned to have known several fellow drivers who had been interviewed and turned down for the jobs.
And another anonymous driver told The Sun, “The Routemaster will soon be back in the capital. What a shame if British drivers miss out on the chance to drive it.”
The combination of much-loved British transport icon and 'migrant steals British job' story was one the tabloids obviously couldn't resist and poor old Abellio took a bit of pasting. For it's part, the company said that it's trip to Poland was simply to '... supplement recruitment in the UK' and they successfully recruited 51 experienced bus drivers there.
'We are not aware of any occasion where a suitable candidate has been turned away,' they added, suggesting that they'd felt the British candidates they'd previously turned away had simply not been up to scratch.
All of which prompted the usual inflammatory statements about migrants 'stealing' jobs from British workers. The Daily Mail seized the opportunity to quote figures suggesting that 160,000 Britons have missed out on paid employment because the work was taken by 'foreigners', and that according to 'experts' every four migrant workers who come to the Britain from outside the EU leads to one British job being lost.
As ever, the truth in one form or other will be in there somewhere, though I suspect this probably says more about the challenge of living in London on a relatively low wage and little affordable housing. How anyone manages to live there I just can't understand – but I can understand how a British family might baulk at the kind of sacrifices they'd be required to make just to allow their husbands or wives to drive a London bus.
And I doubt whether even the Daily Mail has an answer to that one.