AT THE start of the summer shearing season locally there was talk that several factors could hurt the availability of shearers this year.
And certainly, it has been hard to lock in contractors for a date suitable to the wool growers.
It’s the shearers who are having to say how jobs fit into their schedule.
The reports included that Australian shearing contractors, reliant on New Zealand shearers, were struggling to fill vacancies at the wool industry’s busiest period after New Zealand increased its pay rates.
Normally New Zealand shearers flock to Australian wool sheds in search of higher wages, but in July the New Zealand Shearing Contractors Association raised its pay rates by 25 per cent in an effort to keep workers.
For the first time New Zealand shearers can earn more in New Zealand than they can working in Australia according to the Shearing Contractors Association of Australia (SCAA). So, some simply didn’t come.
It has reportedly had a knock-on effect.
Lamb and wool producer David O’Callaghan hasn’t seen any signs of that but he’s aware shearers have been harder to tie down.
“Our situation was that the fellow who did it for many years. Phil Symmons, retired and we got a young bloke, from down Yarram way, 20 or 21, who’s done a course at Dookie, to do our sheep and he did a really good job,” said David.
“We couldn’t get him exactly when we
wanted him but he was good, we were happy with him.”
Other local wool growers have had to wait up to a month after they’d usually shear,
setting their program back but they say it’s more a case of former shearers giving it away and younger people unwilling to take it on that reports of NZ shearers staying home.
What’s been your experience with shearers? Are the young blokes of today too soft or too smart to take it on? Is there an obvious career path for those prepared to have a crack?