No industry spared as job losses soar

No industry spared as job losses soar

Virgin chief executive Paul Scurrah admitted not all employees would have jobs to come back to once the COVID-19 pandemic passed.

“Regrettably, there will be a number of our staff made redundant in the near future,” Mr Scurrah said. “The decisions we’ve taken today, as difficult as they are, are necessary to put us in a position to preserve as many jobs as we can in the longer term.”

Stood down workers will draw on their accrued leave entitlements over the coming months. But Virgin, similar to Qantas, has also stated “leave without pay will be inevitable” for many staff members.

Mr Scurrah briefed his workers on the news on Wednesday morning, telling them it was “unprecedented times” for the aviation sector.

Bill Granger, who has closed his Bills cafes until further notice, has warned that the government’s $100,000 one-off cash payments to small businesses “will barely cover our wages for a week, if that.” 

Virgin is working with more than 25 business partners to identify short and long-term redeployment options.

In banking, National Australia Bank said it would stop work on approximately 100 non-essential projects almost immediately and stand down related contractors and consultants, but has not given any details on numbers.

Mosaic Brands, which owns the Noni B, Millers, Rivers and Katies brands, on Wednesday became the second national retailer to voluntarily close all its Australian stores, causing the loss of 7000 jobs.

It plans to close all of its nearly 1400 stores from Thursday because its personal service model meant it was unable to comply with social distancing rules.

On Tuesday, jewellery chain Michael Hill became the first non-food retailer to voluntarily close its Australian stores for an indefinite period.

Businesswoman Naomi Milgrom, who owns womenswear stores Sussans, Sportsgirl and Suzanne Grae, let go 1300 casuals last week but has not so far cut the pay or hours of 1800 full time and permanent part-time staff.

Chef Bill Granger, who closed his Bills cafes until further notice, has warned that the government’s $100,000 one-off cash payments to small businesses “will barely cover our wages for a week, if that.”

Sussans, Sportsgirl and Suzanne Grae let go 1,300 casuals last week. 

“Encouraging business owners into further debt by offering loans to pay wages is irresponsible,” Mr Granger said in a post on Instagram.

Woolworths’ drinks and hospitality joint venture, Endeavour Group, revealed on Tuesday that it was standing down about 8000 staff after states started closing non-essential services. The Australian Hotels Association said it was too early to tell how many jobs will be lost in the sector.

Further job cuts have been foreshadowed in Western Australia’s resources sector after energy group Chevron said it was “working through plans to de-mobilise non-essential contractor personnel at our natural gas sites”.

Chevron’s WA operations include the huge Gorgon LNG project on Barrow Island and other production on the island, as well as the large Wheatstone LNG project near Onslow on the mainland.

Woodside Petroleum axed about 500 jobs at its Karratha gas plant in WA on Tuesday just days after cutting up to 400 offshore jobs.

People working in events management and the arts and entertainment industries are also losing jobs as big social gatherings are banned and film production, theatres, live music venues and art galleries shut down.

With Sue Mitchell, Jennifer Hewett, Angela Macdonald-Smith, James Frost

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