Businesses look for more workers amid coronavirus hospitality layoffs

This article is authored by Eugene Boisvert and Shuba Krishnan and is originally published by ABC News.

Virginia Farm Produce, just outside of Adelaide, is seeking 40 staff in a range of positions because of increased demand and a lack of normal seasonal labour.

The company grows and packs potatoes and onions at its farm about 35 kilometres north of the city.

Chief financial officer Jessica Snaddon said sales were up 25 to 30 per cent as more people were cooking at home.

“Business is growing great. We’re going from strength to strength,” she said.

“We find more Australians are spending time at home because of the coronavirus lockdown.

“We’re finding there’s more demand for our product so we’re selling more of your convenience-size products and more potatoes and onions.”

A Facebook post looking for workers has been shared more than 6,000 times since it was posted on Saturday.

Ms Snaddon said many overqualified people had applied, including train drivers, chefs, musicians and photographers, for permanent and casual jobs doing picking, packing, grading and driving forklifts.

“The response has just been so overwhelming,” she said.

“It’s heart-wrenching to read through some of these resumes some of these people that have lost their jobs — whole families that are out of work.

“We’ve gone from about 200 resumes within the first day to about 2,000 resumes received so far and it’s just growing — the momentum just keeps picking up.”

The company’s normal backpacker labour has dried up, with many of them returning to their home countries.

“A lot of people are getting towards the end of their visa and we’re not seeing the new wave of people coming through,” Ms Snaddon said.

Onion production supervisor Varun Sharma has worked at the business for more than three years.

“I was worried before because I thought our company might shut down as well,” he said.

“I was worried about my income and how I was going to pay my rent and my bills, but at this stage I’m [feeling] really fortunate about it, I’m getting some really good hours and some really good money out of it.”

Call for workers in aged care and call centres

Adelaide-based aged care provider ACH Group is looking to recruit housekeeping staff, chefs, waiters, catering assistants and laundry assistants.

Chief executive Frank Weits said the company was “actively encouraging” people from the hospitality, aviation, travel and restaurant industries to apply.

“Now is the time to look at this amazing, important and exciting sector and, if you’re willing to make a change, have a look at our website or any other aged care provider,” he said.

“We would like to help out and offer those jobs where we can.”

Telstra is recruiting 1,000 call centre staff nationwide, including 110 in Adelaide.

The company is also looking for inbound call-takers in Brisbane, Melbourne, Hobart, Bathurst and Townsville.

A Telstra spokesman said it was finding it hard to get staff into work at its call centre in the Philippines and India.

The office-based jobs are being advertised as temporary positions.

“We’re looking for people who have had call centre or retail customer service experience in a large operation,” the spokesman said.

“The people who have come from that environment or … anybody with those types of skills we can certainly help out.”

Drakes Supermarkets chief executive Roger Drake said he was looking to recruit more staff because of increased demand for groceries, especially online.

“Our staff are working at the absolute maximum and we’ve got to ensure they’re not under big pressure,” he said.

Help for businesses from council

Adelaide City Council has announced a $4 million assistance package for businesses affected by the statewide shutdown.

Tenants in all council-owned buildings will have their rent waived for three months and have the possibility to defer rate payments.

The council’s cleaning regime will also be boosted, to ensure the city is kept as hygienic as possible.

Street parking regulations will be relaxed to make the city more accessible.

Lord Mayor Sandy Verschoor said the council wanted to support the community.

“Of course we’re putting a raft of support for our city communities because we’re really mindful that as well as the businesses there are a lot of elderly and homeless and vulnerable members of the community that need support at this time,” Ms Verschoor said.

All pedestrian crossing buttons in the Adelaide CBD will operate automatically.

At Norwood Centrelink, queues were forming from around 5:30am.

“I’m a chef from the Ghan train, and I got told yesterday that the trains won’t be going out each Thursday, so I won’t be able to do the functions,” one man said.

“I just did the maths and I was like I better come in the morning very early just so I can get in early.”

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