A JOB is offering employees more than £4,000 a MONTH for working just six hours a day – but no one wants to take it up.
An Australian MP has pleaded for fruit pickers to step forward to sort this season’s bumper crops amid a critical shortage of workers in the country.
MP Anne Webster branded the shortage of staff willing to take up the £4,000-a-month job a “tragedy in the making”.
Ripe fruit is being left to rot away on the ground due to the lack of workers – and it could cost the country millions.
Dr Webster has called for a solution to the “unfolding disaster”.
She said: “Citrus growers here in Sunraysia are faced with wonderful crops and a healthy export market (despite global shipping constraints), but there is one critical ingredient missing: workers.
“Citrus pickers can currently earn $400 (£225) per day, working 10.30 to 4.30pm. That is $2,000 (£1,100) per week.
“But there are so few workers these crops are at risk of falling to the ground. The citrus industry is worth $520million (£292million).
“If it falls to the ground it is worth zero.”
The MP said she was surprised by the huge response to her post – but she said it proved just how serious the problem was.
She told news.com.au: “I think there is a tremendous misunderstanding about the horticulture industry and just how many workers we need.
“I was looking at a government data page today and in fact we have 21,000 (overseas) workers in the country, but that’s actually still nowhere near what we had prior to Covid.
“We need a range of workers to meet all these needs. When we were in government we did a whole lot of work managing the seasonal workforce.
“And I’m not pretending there’s an instant solution, but we have a desperate need for workers.”
Dr Webster said the industry was in “crisis” and contractors in her region are short of workers for the first time in their careers – with local farmers forced to plough in acres of fruit trees as a result.
A scan of Australian job sites shows there’s a range of well-paid fruit and vegetable picking roles available.
But the Covid pandemic and border shutdowns saw backpackers leaving the country in droves, adding to the crisis.
In an attempt to avert a disaster, the government set up a scheme last January to lure in locals to pick up the slack – worth up to $6,000 (£3,300) for Australian workers and up to $2,000 (£1,100) for international job seekers.
The Australian agricultural sector is not the only sector hit hard in recent months.
Companies in the mining sector have been left desperate for staff even after offering jobs with £80,000 starting salaries and £7,000 signing bonuses.
The six-figure salaries come amid an “unprecedented” shortage of workers in the industry.
Positions available include auto electricians in Queensland who could start with a salary of nearly £80,000.
Job offers also include automation engineers, metallurgists and geologists – all coming with a salary of between £57,000 and £73,000.
Steve Knott, the boss of Australian Resources and Energy Employer Association, told Daily Mail Australia: “Overwhelmingly, the biggest issue for mining, oil and gas and supply chain businesses is getting the people required to do the job.
“This is caused by a range of factors including the disruption of the Covid pandemic and ongoing high levels of growth across all commodity areas.
“Market demand has seen base rates of pay jump at extraordinary levels and companies also paying huge sign-on and retention and loyalty bonuses to try and attract and retain people.”