You can’t beat the San Remo Fishermen’s Co-op for a great feed of fish’n’chips and keeping staff on through the lockdowns and slowdowns has been the secret to getting up and rolling again.


THE local economy has just gone boom.

Everything is up and firing all of a sudden, six weeks out from Christmas.

The Deputy Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Minister for Gaming and Liquor Regulation, Steph Ryan, has come out this week claiming the government needs to offer incentives for people to fill desperately needed positions in hospitality and accommodation.

But it’s not just “hospo” staff that are in short supply.

A qualified hairdresser at Cuttin-In in Wonthaggi, a property manager at Alex Scott in Inverloch, carpenters at Coldon Homes, a maintenance person at the GP Circuit…

Admin assistants, cleaners, motor vehicle technicians, relief milkers and yes, chefs, hotel and cafés staff; they’ve all been advertised for in the Sentinel-Times and elsewhere as the economy gets up and going, on a more sustainable footing after passing 80 per cent fully vaccinated, pushing on to 90 per cent.

Ms Ryan says more eateries across Melbourne and the regions have had to close or reduce hours as the shortage of staff continues to bite but that hasn’t been the response locally, although Paul Mannix, general manager at the icon San Remo Fishermen’s Co-op said this week it had been a challenge to recruit.

“We made the decision we were going to try to keep our staff right through, plus keeping our name out there and also providing access to local seafood from our members,” said Paul.

“And with the help of Job Keeper and some of the other support government support grants, we’ve been able to do that, not making any money but at least providing work and staying open.

“So, when Melbourne Cup Weekend came along, and the place went crazy, we were thankfully as ready as we could be for that.

“We’ve got a great team, some full-time, some senior staff and junior staff working part-time, but we are looking to recruit, everything from cooks to juniors.

“I appreciate not everyone could do it, and there has been some hesitancy from people looking to get back into work, but keeping our staff right through has been a godsend and we’re ready now to move into the summer season,” said Paul.

The Nationals Steph Ryan says the government should give new staff $500 just to sign on to a new job. What do you think?

But it hasn’t been easy for many in hospitality and there’s evidence in many locations of cafés and other businesses that haven’t made it.

“Lockdown after lockdown saw thousands of workers forced to leave the industry in search of more certain work, but not enough have returned,” Ms Ryan said this week.

“Who can blame workers for leaving the industry when the government’s lockdowns and yo-yoing restrictions left them unable to pay the bills?

“This is why we’re calling on the Government to fund a sign-on bonus for new staff to take up jobs that desperately need to be filled.

“Unless the Victorian Government adopts new ideas to attract and retain workers, we’ll continue to see venues cut back their opening hours at a time when so many Victorians are eager to support local businesses to recover.”

Ms Ryan is suggesting a $250 sign-on bonus in metro Melbourne, after 10 days in the new job, and $500 in regional areas after 10 days, with a further $500 after 30 days work within a 90-day period.

It that realistic after so many government handouts?

And many businesses, having trouble recruiting, say it shouldn’t be limited to hospitality. What do you think?