Australia’s chronically low wage growth is now considered by many economists, including RBA governor Phil Lowe, as being one of the key barriers to the Australian economy’s post pandemic recovery.
As such, it is disheartening to read regular stories from the mainstream media lamenting that the loss of temporary migrant workers due to COVID has forced employers to lift wages and provide training to local workers.
The latest example of this twisted reporting comes from The Australian’s Max Maddison who complains that the “mass exodus of 200,000 foreign students, backpackers and skilled visa holders during the COVID lockdown” is driving the hospitality industry to increase pay and conditions to attract staff:
In Sydney’s east, China Diner owner Kingsley Smith said the limited pool of chefs had forced wages up…
The loss of skilled migrant workers during the pandemic meant he had begun taking on school leavers and university students to fill kitchen and bar positions which usually required significant experience…
Lewis Land Group owns four hotels across NSW and Queensland, and head of leisure Brad Jenkins said they were facing an unprecedented shortage of staff. While chefs were proving impossible to find, the usual supply of young workers willing to pull beers and serve food had also dried up…
With the hospitality group desperately needing 12 to 15 full-time cooks and chefs for two venues two weeks ago, he began offering a $2500 bonus to all new chef recruits who sign up and stay on for three months.
He said the lack of qualified chefs was forcing the industry to offer similar incentives.
Higher pay. Increased access to training. What a wonderful result for an industry grappling with the lowest wage growth on record and an economy suffering from chronically high underemployment.
The Accommodation & Food Services industry has for years paid the lowest wages in Australia at only $650 per week as at August 2020, according to the ABS:
The industry has also been an epicentre of exploitation and wage theft from migrant workers.
Without easy access to cheap, exploitable migrant workers, the hospitality industry is finally being forced to pay a living wage and to provide proper training and job opportunities to local workers.
This positive outcome should be celebrated, not lamented by Australia’s corrupted mainstream media.
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