Over the past few months, the hospitality industry has been one of the most vocal groups demanding migrant workers to ameliorate purported skills shortages.
It has successfully secured favour from Liberal MP Julian Leeser, chair of the parliamentary committee looking into skilled migration, with Leeser singling out the hospitality industry as being in dire need of migrant workers.
The hospitality industry’s skills shortage claim is easily debunked by data, which shows unambiguously that the industry is actually awash with surplus labour. Consider the below evidence.
First, the ABS’ quarterly employment data showed that the Accommodation & Food Services industry (i.e. hospitality & tourism) lost 86,200 workers in the year to February 2021:
Second, the number of job postings across Hospitality & Tourism was 40% below pre-COVID levels at the end of February 2021, despite the 33% increase in job postings across the broader Australian economy:
Third, annual wage growth across the Accommodation & Food Services industry tanked to only 0.3% in the year to December 2020, which was easily the lowest recorded wage growth across the economy:
Finally, the median earnings across the Accommodation & Food Services industry was easily the lowest in Australia in August 2020 (as well as August 2015) at only $650 per week, according to the ABS:
Therefore, if the hospitality industry’s ‘skills shortage’ claim was true, then the industry would not have experienced mass unemployment, the lowest wage growth in Australia, as well as paying the lowest wages in Australia.
Yesterday, we witnessed the hospitality industry’s shameless lobbying in full flight with a 7 News Report (video below) claiming “cafes and restaurants are being hit hard by worker shortages”.
The segment features the following testimony from Justin North, manager at Sydney’s Harbour View Hotel:
“It’s been very, very hard to find staff. And it’s even harder to find skilled staff…
“We’ve had probably about 150 applicants all up. And out of that there was probably about three to four applicants that were suitable for the position”.
This commentary from Justin North highlights precisely why the hospitality industry is not experiencing worker shortages.
150 applicants for a pub job proves there is an abundance of people looking for work. It is only because Justin North is unwilling to provide training that there was only “three to four applicants that were suitable for the position” – still not representative of a worker shortage.
Instead of taking the lazy approach and lobbying the federal government for cheap, exploitable migrant workers under the guise of fake skills shortages, why won’t the hospitality industry provide training to the many unemployed Australians wanting work?
By the same token, if some players in the hospitality industry are struggling to attract workers, there is a simple solution: offer higher wages. This is how the ‘labour market’ is supposed to work.
Curiously, 7 News Reporter Mylee Hogan understands the concept of a ‘labour market’:
“A high number of job vacancies is good news for workers. It means wages could go up as employers boost salaries and incentives in an attempt to attract people to come and work for their business”.
However, the hospitality industry, which pays the lowest wages in Australia, fails to understand this most basic of concept.
Thus, if the treasonous Morrison Government gives it easier access to foreign workers, it will exacerbate the exploitation, push wages even lower, and rob local workers of employment opportunities and a living wage.