Coronavirus has severely hit resources jobs, but now there’s a surprise turnaround – ABC News - Freelance Rack

Work from Home freelancing

Post Top Ad

Post Top Ad

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Coronavirus has severely hit resources jobs, but now there’s a surprise turnaround – ABC News

Perth chef Brenainn Metcalfe is one of the lucky workers to benefit from a resources sector jobs boom in the midst of an economic crisis being compared to the Great Depression.

When his job as a chef at Scotch College began to look precarious after the school closed its boarding house, he was happy to put his hand up to cook at a remote mining site in the Pilbara.

He said he was nervous about his future, until his employer, Compass Group, offered him a redeployment as a fly-in, fly-out chef for mine workers.

“I’ve got mortgages and family and three kids to take care of,” he said.

“I was like ‘where’s my next pay cheque going to come from?’ and ‘how am I going to survive?’ and ‘how long is this going to go on for?'”

Mini boom in mine site work

Compass — which manages FIFO villages for resources companies around Australia — has found itself with an enviable dilemma: “a COVID surge”, according to its recruitment manager Alissa Patoulios.

But this boom is only limited to its small sector of the resources industry, where providers of support services like catering, cleaning and maintenance are in high demand to keep mine sites safe for workers in the coronavirus era.

Miners at Moranbah airport

Miners at Moranbah airport

Mines have continued to operate amid the coronavirus lockdown in Western Australia.(ABC Capricornia: Jemima Burt)

In some states, including WA, mining workers have been classified as essential, meaning they have been able to continue working but under strict health conditions.

This has meant support service providers like Compass have had to hire more workers to help meet these new standards, including cleaners to decontaminate surfaces and chefs to serve individual meals, rather than let workers all eat from the same buffet.

It’s not been difficult to find new workers, with Ms Patoulios recently receiving 1,200 applications for just one job.

Many of these were particularly impressive candidates who had lost their jobs in other industries.

Workforce doubles amid demand

Ms Patoulios said new village contracts and higher demands for support services meant the company had effectively doubled its mine site workforces in Queensland and WA in the past six weeks.

It has been able to redeploy 450 Compass employees who were stood down from jobs in other areas of the business because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Metcalfe was one of these — and has just been redeployed back to Scotch as it begins to reopen to students.

“I feel really lucky to have my job,” he said.

“I do really feel for a lot of people in hospitality industry.

“I do have a lot of friends who are chefs and who aren’t working at the moment.”

A camp in the hills.

A camp in the hills.

Higher standards on mine sites have increased demand for cleaners and other staff.(Supplied: E.K. Rayson)

‘New and exciting opportunities’

Ms Patoulios said it had been a surprisingly “pleasant” experience for the company to be able to provide so many work opportunities.

“We’ve had a lot of employees [who] have been impacted and have essentially not been able to work,” she said.

“They’ve been redeployed across from our other sectors, so we’ve had some really lovely stories of employees taking on new and exciting opportunities.”

This “COVID surge” is possibly one reason why the number of mining, resources and energy jobs advertised with Seek are higher than this time last year.

The latest Seek data shows there was a 0.7 per cent increase in mining, resources and energy job ads in March, compared to March 2019, the biggest growth of any employment sector.

Figures likely to show dramatic jobs losses overall

It is welcome news in an economy in which the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre predicts more than 1.1 million Australians will lose their jobs this year.

But the mining sector has not escaped unscathed from the early economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

The centre’s principal research fellow Rebecca Cassells said new payroll data, released jointly by the ABS and ATO, showed mining sector jobs dropped by 9.5 per cent between March 14 and April 4.

In WA, the loss of mining jobs was smaller at 7.4 per cent, but still higher than the national 6 per cent decline in jobs across all sectors.

Queue at Centrelink Victoria Park

Queue at Centrelink Victoria Park

Data released next week will reveal the scope of job losses caused by the coronavirus shutdown.(ABC News: Marcus Alborn)

Ms Cassells said the next round of payroll data, which is able to capture workers receiving the JobKeeper payment, would be released next week – and she expected it to reveal dramatic job losses.

Dire straits for oil and gas

Paul Everingham, who runs the Chamber of Minerals and Energy of WA, said the mining job losses captured by the most recent data would most likely have come from oil and gas companies, as well as contractors across the resources sector.

“What companies are trying to do, particularly oil and gas companies and bauxite companies that are under stress because of the prices of their commodities, is suspend contractors but keep full-time and part-time employees on during this crisis,” he said.

Man stands in shirts and jeans on verandah with hands in pockets

Man stands in shirts and jeans on verandah with hands in pockets

Chamber of Minerals and Energy chief executive Paul Everingham says some unemployment may be linked to oil and gas industries grappling with a price plunge.(ABC Goldfields)

He said oil and gas companies were trying to deal with the international problem of Saudi Arabia and Russia ramping up oil production in an environment of low prices as well as low demand, as part of the economic fallout from the coronavirus.

For example, Woodside on Thursday said it was deferring its final investment decisions on big WA projects like Browse, the expansion of Pluto and Scarborough.

But Mr Everingham said that the iron ore sector was performing strongly, with no sign of any job losses, and would play an important role in the national, and WA, economic recovery.

Woodside's Pluto LNG project in the Pilbara lit up with lights at dusk.

Woodside's Pluto LNG project in the Pilbara lit up with lights at dusk.

Woodside is deferring its final investment decisions the expansion of its Pluto project, in WA’s Pilbara.(Supplied: Woodside Energy Ltd)

The billions of dollars in taxes and royalties paid by the industry — as well as the need for gas production to continue “to keep the lights on” — were the main reasons its workers were deemed essential amid coronavirus restrictions.

“Iron ore dominates the federal and state budgets. It is very significant for those budgets,” he said.

“A dollar shift in the price of seaborne iron ore can shift state budgets by tens of millions and federal budgets by hundreds of millions.”

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.

The Virus: We could be in for an ‘early mark’ on physical distancing measures


No comments:

Post a Comment

Post Top Ad