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Pubs suffer crippling staff shortages

Aussie pubs are struggling with staff shortages and insufficient stocks of craft beer in the lead up to Christmas.

The Australian Hotels Association estimates that pubs alone will need to hire an additional 9000 extra staff in NSW to cope with increased capacity during the festive season and over summer.

Billionaire pub baron Justin Hemmes, owner of the Merivale Group, who just paid $32million to add the Duke of Gloucester Hotel in Randwick to his extensive portfolio, told The Australian he can’t find enough staff for his venues.

“The amount of visa workers that fill positions, particularly short-term positions over the busy summer period, is extraordinary, and we don’t have any of those people here now,” he said.

Backpackers and skilled visa holders were told early in the pandemic to return home and denied access to JobSeeker or JobKeeper payments.

Australian Venue Co CEO Paul Waterson is offering a $1000 sign-on bonus to attract employees to combat staff shortages at his 150 venues.

“We know everyone’s a bit short given the six-month shutdown for the industry,” Waterson told 7NEWS.

“So we thought by offering $1000 up front that might help pay a few of those bills.”

It’s a similar story in Western Australia. The Victoria Park Hotel placed a job ad seeking qualified chefs and offered a $1000 sign-on bonus “upon commencement”.

“Candidates who apply for a position through this advertisement and are successful in gaining permanent employment with AVC between November 1 2020 and December 31 2020 will be eligible for a $1000 sign-on bonus upon commencement,” the ad said.

It also offered a $2000 retention bonus, “payable at three months employment” to try and solve staff shortages.

Victorian president of the Australian Hotels Association, David Canny, said staff shortages could mean rising prices for consumers, with venues potentially needing to charge more for food and drinks to cover costs.

“In desperate times, you do desperate things,” Canny told The Age.

”Some operators will see overpaying as a way of survival, getting through, filling rosters and being able to give people time off.

“Venues wouldn’t be able to absorb that [cost] … you could see prices forced up, absolutely.”

Deloitte Access Economics data shows Victoria’s hospitality industry employed about 54,000 people, including those on JobKeeper, to September this year. This is down on the 76,000 employed in 2019.

Brewers struggling to meet demand post-lockdown

The Age also reports that due to the knock-on effects of lockdown, some small brewers such as Coburg Brewing Co have not had any beer to sell, while others cannot keep up with demand.

The shortage is due to some Victorian breweries with expensive equipment and overheads took on production contracts from interstate brewers to make ends meet, while pubs and clubs lay dormant during lockdowns.

Coburg Brewing Co

Having already poured 180 kegs of beer down the drain during lockdown, Coburg owner Danial Caneva (above, right) said brewers had been cautious about organising new batches until there was absolute certainty on a reopening date for pubs.

“The end result, when Victoria was given two days’ notice with a green light, was no beer,” he said.

It takes two to three weeks to brew a batch of beer and Caneva has only recently been able to secure space with three different breweries to make Coburg Lager. He will finally have fresh beer to sell from next Monday – just four days from Christmas.

Pictured main: The Red Lion Hotel, Ballarat

Fears Melbourne pubs won’t recover from COVID-19

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