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Job is offering workers over £4,000 a MONTH to work just six hours a day – but nobody wants to do it

A JOB offers employees over £4,000 a MONTH to work just six hours a day – but no one wants to take it.

An Australian MP has pleaded for fruit pickers to step forward to sort through this season’s bumper crops amid a critical shortage of workers in the country.

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Australia faces critical shortage of fruit pickers for this season’s bumper harvestCredit: Getty
Fruit is left to rot on the ground - and it could cost the country millions

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Fruit is left to rot on the ground – and it could cost the country millionsCredit: Anne Webster, MP

MP Anne Webster called the shortage of staff willing to take on the £4,000-a-month job a “tragedy in the making”.

Ripe fruit is left to rot on the ground due to lack of workers – and it could cost the country millions.

Dr Webster called for a solution to the “unfolding disaster”.

She said, “Citrus growers here at Sunraysia are facing wonderful harvests and a healthy export market (despite global shipping constraints), but one critical ingredient is missing: workers.

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“Citrus pickers can currently earn $400 (£225) a day, working from 10.30pm to 4.30pm. That’s $2,000 (£1,100) a week.

“But there are so few workers that those crops are in danger of falling to the ground. The citrus industry is worth $520m (£292m).

“If it falls on the ground, it’s worth zero.”

The MP said she was surprised by the huge response to her post – but said it proved how serious the problem was.

She told news.com.au: “I think there’s a huge misunderstanding about the horticulture industry and how many workers we need.

“I was looking at a government data page today and in fact we have 21,000 (overseas) workers in the country, but that’s actually still a far cry from what we had before Covid.

“We need a range of workers to meet all of these needs. When we were in government, we did a lot of work managing the seasonal workforce.

“And I’m not claiming there’s an instant fix, but we desperately need workers.”

Dr Webster said the industry was in “crisis” and contractors in his area were running out of workers for the first time in their careers – with local farmers forced to plow acres of fruit trees.

A scan of Australian job boards shows that there is a range of high-paying fruit and vegetable picking positions.

But the Covid pandemic and border closures have seen backpackers leave the country in droves, deepening the crisis.

In a bid to avert disaster, the government introduced a scheme last January to entice locals to take over – worth up to $6,000 (£3,300) for Australian workers and up to $2,000 (£1,100) for international job seekers.

The Australian agricultural sector is not the only sector hard hit in recent months.

Mining companies are in desperate need of staff even after offering jobs with starting salaries of £80,000 and signing bonuses of £7,000.

The six-figure salaries come amid an “unprecedented” shortage of workers in the industry.

Positions available include automotive electricians in Queensland who could start with a salary of almost £80,000.

Jobs also include automation engineers, metallurgists and geologists – all with salaries between £57,000 and £73,000.

Steve Knott, head of the Australian Resources and Energy Employer Association, told Daily Mail Australia: “Overwhelmingly, the biggest problem for mining, oil and gas and supply chain companies is finding the people needed to do the job.

“This is due to a range of factors including the disruption from the Covid pandemic and continued high levels of growth across all commodity areas.

“Market demand has seen base pay rates soar to extraordinary levels and companies are also paying huge sign-up, retention and loyalty bonuses to try to attract and retain people.”