One of the major industries that have suffered a significant blow due to COVID 19 is the agricultural field and its labour. In fact, the border restrictions that have been implemented because of this pandemic are causing an exponential decline in the number of active workers. Many backpackers, who are essential when it comes to picking fruits and vegetables in the harvesting season, have had to return to their abodes. Even though more than 240,000 Australians are expected to lose their jobs by the end of the year, farmers are still worried that there will be a shortage of workers.
Furthermore, many farmers are starting to panic about the harvesting season, which is only a few months away. In order to retain their employees, many farm owners are offering bonuses and other incentives. Furthermore, about half of the labourers that toil in the farms are backpackers. Unfortunately, this demographic is quickly shrinking. Typically, there are around 145,000 backpackers and overseas visitors that work in the country at any given time. However, at the current moment, there are only 85,000 workers in Australia.
Even though the Federal Government has taken steps so that these labourers can extend their visas, there is uncertainty about how many of these workers will stay. This is a real concern because these backpackers make up about one-third of the season’s workforce. One of the solutions that have been offered to the labours by the employers is to swap the workers in and out. Additionally, the state governments are also attempting to link farmers with agricultural workers. Sadly, unemployment rates have reached the zenith in the current times. Hence, the government, alongside farm owners, need to construct a concrete plan that will be mutually beneficial for the workers and the owners. Hence, labour is a great part of Australian farms.
Article by: Hari Yellina (Orchard Tech)