Woolworths hiring 20,000 to meet demand surge
Jenny Wiggins

Woolworths plans to create up to 20,000 new jobs over the next month to meet unprecedented demand for grocery products and boost its online capabilities so it can make more home deliveries during the coronavirus lockdown.

Woolworths said most of the new jobs would be casual positions to provide “maximum workforce flexibility” to respond to peaks in demand and cover for existing team members who may be unable to work due to the spread of COVID-19.

Some 5,000 of the positions will be offered to Qantas workers stood down as the travel industry crumbled in the past month because of the pandemic.

Woolworths needs more staff to help keep its shelves and fridges stocked as people panic-buy grocery products. Renee Nowytarger

The supermarket chain’s sales and customer numbers have been double normal levels in the past few weeks, leading to major stock shortages on supermarket shelves.

Woolworths Group chief executive Brad Banducci said the company’s immediate focus would be to redeploy some 8,000 staff from its hospitality division Endeavour Group who were stood down after mandatory hotel closures.

“We have already placed around 3,000 of those impacted into new roles across BWS, Dan Murphy’s and Woolworths supermarkets and will continue to take expressions of interest,” Mr Banducci said on Friday.

“We’re also preparing to offer up to 5,000 short-term roles to Qantas Group employees taking leave without pay, including more than 1,500 in our distribution centres.” Qantas stood down 20,000 staff earlier this month after scrapping flights and grounding planes.

Woolworths said it was streamlining application processes for employees from Village Entertainment, Michael Hill Jewellers, Cotton On, Accor and Super Retail Group looking for short term jobs after stores shut to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

It said it was working through thousands of applications already made through its careers website and walk-up applications made in-store.

The new Woolworths jobs will be spread around Australia. More than 5,000 people will be hired in both NSW and Victoria, while more than 2,000 jobs will go to Western Australia, 600 to Tasmania and 250 to the North Territory.

Queensland will take on 4,700 people; South Australia 1,350; and the ACT 300.

Job losses from COVID-19 are soaring as more of the biggest companies, including Virgin Australia, Star Entertainment Group and womenswear retailer Mosaic Brands lay off tens of thousands of staff.

The job cuts have hit every sector of the economy.

Star, which operates hotels and casinos in Sydney, the Gold Coast and Brisbane (where it is helping redevelop Queen’s Wharf) is standing down more than 90 per cent of its 9000 employees after being forced to close its gaming floors, restaurants, bars and conference facilities.

Virgin Australia has stood down 8000 workers, while Mosaic Brands – which owns the Noni B, Millers, Rivers and Katies brands – has voluntarily closed all its Australian stores, causing the loss of 7000 jobs.

Travel group Flight Centre said on Thursday it was standing down 3,800 staff in Australia while outdoor clothing brand Kathmandu said on Friday it was cutting 2,000 jobs in Australia and New Zealand as it shut down stores.

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