In a proactive move to combat the worker shortage, Burdekin canegrowers are asking for people to consider a “cane change.”
The Burdekin Shire Council and local canegrower organisations have put the call out to potential seasonal workers to rethink their “sea change” plans to assist with the 2022 sugar cane crushing season.
Burdekin Shire Council Mayor, Cr Lyn McLaughlin says due to unusually late wet weather, seasonal workers who start in the coming weeks would still have at least four months of work ahead of them.
“At current estimate, the Burdekin’s 2022 sugar cane crushing season will not finish until at least 31 December, meaning there is still a lot of money to be made for those willing to put in the work,” she says.
“While the Burdekin’s sugar cane crushing season has commenced, farmers and contractors are still on the hunt for both permanent workers to fill roles such as farmhands as well as seasonal workers for positions as harvester operators and haul out truck drivers for the remainder of the crushing season.”
While backpackers traditionally opt to work as fruit pickers, it’s the grey nomad population of the country that are better equipped to operate trucks and transporters. This call was heeded by Brett Thomas, originally from Victoria and now working as a haul out driver for local canegrowers.
“We were travelling and working our way around the country and I saw an ad for a haul out truck driver and I thought, ‘right, this is something on my bucket list, I’ll give this a go,’” Brett says.
“I’ve spent 25 years at sea working on boats, from skippering boats, fishing boats, container ships and tug boats. Tug boats you’re beside hundreds of tonnes, you’ve gotta keep a certain mark and you’re towing a lot of weight and this is sorta similar to that.”
Economic Development Advisory Group representative and local grower Cr Max Musumeci says that the worker shortage is worse than previous years.
“I’ve personally been getting phone calls to get in a haul out or transporter which signifies how desperate they are getting. The same thing happened last year but this is much worse,” Cr Musumeci explains.
“There is definitely a shortage of workers but definitely not a shortage of employment opportunities across the shire.”
Click here to find out more about the the Burdekin Shire Council’s “Cane Change” campaign.
FEATURE IMAGE CREDIT – Ashley Caldwell