Farm jobs offer hope for Tasmania's laid-off hospitality industry workers

Posted: 30th Mar

Tasmanian farmers have thrown a lifeline to the state’s unemployed hospitality workers, providing harvesting jobs in the apple, berry and wine industries.

Federal Group representatives have been in contact with Fruit Growers Tasmania in recent days, helping to identify potential job opportunities for some of the 1500 employees who were stood down earlier this week.

The move came following Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s decision to shut bars, casinos, hotels and restaurants nationally to limit indoor gatherings and help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Vineyards have also welcomed displaced hospitality workers as the state’s grape harvest hits its peak.

Fruit Growers Tasmania chief executive officer Peter Cornish said there weren’t a huge number of jobs available on fruit farms – as pickers and packers are typically locked in well in advance – but some vacancies had definitely been filled by Tasmanians who had recently lost their jobs in other industries.

Some backpackers had returned overseas, he said, as border control measures began to tighten, and newly unemployed Tasmanians had helped fill those positions.

The apple picking season is in full swing and continues until May while berries are also being harvested.

Mr Cornish said as workers were outside and typically separated by rows, it was easy to enforce social distancing measures.

Meanwhile, Wine Tasmania chief executive officer Sheralee Davies said hospitality workers were finding jobs in the state’s vineyards.

“We’re particularly feeling for those in the hospitality space,’’ she said.

“I know quite a few wine businesses are trying to offer as many as they can some vintage work ... people are certainly trying to help each other.’’

Delamere Vineyard put out a social media call on Thursday for unemployed hospitality staff in the Launceston, Bridport and George Town regions to get in touch regarding picking vacancies.

The next day the vineyard announced it had been overwhelmed by the huge response and would be in touch with applicants soon.

A Federal Group spokesperson said the hotels giant had reached out to a number of businesses to try and secure work for staff, with some success at Telstra and Woolworths, as well as through Fruit Growers Tasmania.

Source: The Mercury -