Tue. May 24th, 2022


Canberra companies are struggling to keep goods afloat while the supply chain crisis continues to bite. They adapt and change routes in light of staff shortages. Some stores say the shelves are still at 80 percent of their usual capacity due to persistent shortages of chicken. The workers are under pressure, according to one of the major unions involved in the distribution networks. Truck drivers have been asked to return to work while still being COVID-positive, the Transport Workers Union said. But the union’s Canberra leadership praised a more pragmatic approach from the ACT government, which discussed broadly with both companies and the union on how to get workers back to work. The overall picture is of an ACT economy trying to adapt in the face of multiple difficulties in a tight network of relationships. READ MORE: “We are able to turn around. We can switch supplier and transport company, and that gets us across the line,” said Jim Stamatis, who owns the regional wholesale fruit depot just inside the ACT, near Queanbeyan. The real cost comes from the lack of workers in remote fields and orchards. In normal times, teams of pickers wander up and down the country as different fruits come into season. These itinerant pickers are usually paid in tons, while local workers are paid per tonne. hour. This means that the incoming ones are cheaper – but currently not available in sufficient numbers. “There are lots of oranges on the trees, but none of these usual seasonal workers, so it costs more for a kilo,” Mr Stamatis said. Canberra has a strong asset, he said: it’s between Sydney and Melbourne, so ACT distributors can more easily switch supplier and transport companies. He appealed to Canberrans to stick to local businesses through tough times: “What’s really important is to continue to support local suppliers here in Canberra, support not only from customers and other businesses, but also from the government. ” Rising prices and continued shelf space are the two sides of the current supply and demand balance. “There are certain things we struggle with like poultry and meat,” said Frank Pelle, manager of the Lyneham IGA. “But it’s getting better.” Workers volunteered for work across the ACT, but some said they were more anxious now with the Omicron variant than they were with Delta last year. “It’s scary,” said courier and supermarket worker Nabin Adhikari. “Drivers are anxious. Everything has changed because COVID numbers are skyrocketing. There are a lot of infections going on.” Nationally, the Transport Workers Union said some logistics people were pressured to return to work prematurely after capturing COVID: There were “alarming safety breaches” in an “overtly prioritizing profits over safety”. But local official Klaus Pinkas said the ACT government made more sense than the federal government in realizing that there were pitfalls if newly infected workers were just pushed back to work. There should be a conversation involving the worker and his or her colleagues. Our coverage of the health and safety aspects of this outbreak of COVID-19 in ACT is free for all to access. However, we rely on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, sign up here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support. You can also sign up for our newsletters for regular updates. Our journalists work hard to deliver local, up-to-date news to the community. Here’s how you can continue to access our trusted content:


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