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Australia’s biggest companies slashed tens of thousands of jobs amid coronavirus

Some of Australia’s most trusted brands have been forced to lay off thousands of staff as the coronavirus crisis creates economic devastation.

Qantas, Flight Centre, ABC and Woolworths have announced they would let go of a combined 9,000 employees as a direct result of COVID-19.

In Australia’s attempt to stem the spread of the deadly respiratory virus, the nation went into lockdown and closed international – and most interstate – borders. 

The decision was effective in limiting a widespread outbreak of the virus like experienced in other parts of the world, but crippled the economy. 

Figures show close to one million jobs were lost between mid-March, before the shutdown, and the end of May. 

Nationally, the number of people with a job has fallen from 13million to 12million in little more than two months, and June figures won’t be released until mid-July.

Here, Daily Mail Australia takes a look at some of the most significant job cuts across the nation as a result of the coronavirus downturn.

Air crew walk through the Qantas Terminal at Sydney Airport on June 19. 15,000 staff members already stood down will remain out of work ‘for some time’

Qantas  

On Thursday, Qantas announced it would slash 6,000 jobs – 20 per cent of the airline’s workforce – as the government’s lockdown of international borders cripples the aviation industry.

The airline also said the 15,000 staff members already stood down will remain out of work ‘for some time’.

The staff cuts come just days after Qantas cancelled all of its international flights other than those between Australia and New Zealand until September because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Qantas employees working as ground and cabin crews and in the airline’s Sydney head office will form the bulk of the job cuts.

On Thursday, Qantas announced it would slash 6,000 jobs - 20 per cent of the airline's workforce

On Thursday, Qantas announced it would slash 6,000 jobs – 20 per cent of the airline’s workforce

CUTS BEING MADE BY QANTAS AND JETSTAR 

Non-operational – at least 1,450 job losses

Cabin crew – at least 1,050 job losses 

Engineering – at least 630 job losses

Pilots – at least 220 job losses 

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce told reporters on Thursday the impact of coronavirus meant the company would have to become a ‘smaller airline’ in the short term. 

‘We have never experienced anything like this before – no-one has. All airlines are in the biggest crisis our industry has ever faced,’ he said.

‘Revenues have collapsed, entire fleets are grounded and the world biggest carriers are taking extreme action just to survive.’

He said global travel will likely not return to pre-COVID standards for at least three years.  

‘We have to position ourselves for several years where revenues will be much lower. And that means becoming a smaller airline in the short term.’

Mr Joyce said he expected to bring back about half of the 15,000 staff stood down to the workforce by the end of the year as domestic travel within Australia returns to normal.

‘The remainder – mostly those supporting international flying – will return more slowly,’ he said.

ABC 

The ABC will slash up to 250 jobs and axe its flagship 7.45am radio news bulletin in a major shake-up at the national broadcaster.

The changes are part of the national broadcaster’s five-year strategy, which would see funding reallocated to ensure the ABC stays relevant to more Australians.

ABC Life will be rebranded, ABC Comedy repurposed and underperforming news programs reviewed.

No division will be spared in the job cuts as the broadcaster tries to save $40million under a five-year plan.

Staff travel budgets will be reduced by a quarter and $5million will be shaved off the independent production budget.

The travel budget will be cut by 25 per cent.

‘This is a difficult time for everyone. But the changes we have announced today are necessary to ensure the continuation of the essential services we provide in an increasingly challenging global media market,’ Managing director David Anderson said.

The ABC will slash up to 250 jobs and axe its flagship 7.45am radio news bulletin in a major shake-up at the national broadcaster

The ABC will slash up to 250 jobs and axe its flagship 7.45am radio news bulletin in a major shake-up at the national broadcaster

Flight Centre

Flight Centre will cut up to 1,500 jobs in the wake of the coronavirus crisis and international border closures.

Up to 70 per cent of the agency’s 10,000 Australian staff members were stood down or made redundant since the outbreak of COVID-19 and were provided JobKeeper to stay afloat.

But staff at Flight Centres across Queensland began receiving redundancy packages from last Thursday as the company attempts to lower costs. 

The jobs that are facing cuts are in the sales and support sectors. 

‘Sadly, this is the case throughout the travel and tourism industries, with thousands of jobs already lost and, based on research released today by the Tourism and Transport Forum, tens of thousands of additional jobs at risk if the JobKeeper program is not extended,’ a Flight Centre spokesman said. 

Flight Centre will cut up to 1,500 jobs after the demand for holidays plummeted in the wake of coronavirus

Flight Centre will cut up to 1,500 jobs after the demand for holidays plummeted in the wake of coronavirus 

‘Within our business, up to 1,500 sales and support roles may become redundant in Australia once we make an assessment of the remaining limited work to perform and undertake our consultation process.

‘Our hearts go out to those people who are affected.’

JobKeeper provided some relief to the travel agency but ultimately couldn’t make up for border closures. 

At the end of March, the travel company announced 6,000 staff would be made redundant globally, including 3,800 in Australia.

In April, Flight Centre said that 428 of its 944 Australian stores would close by July. 

Australia Post

A union representative suggested Australia Post would fire up to 2,000 staff under the guise of restructuring the business.

In April, Australia Post announced a restructure that would see letters delivered every second business day so more posties would be available to deliver parcels from online shoppers.

But Shane Murphy, the President of The Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union, said the Australia post was using the restructure to cut thousands of jobs. 

Mr Murphy told The Australian that Australia Post executives explained to staff one of four traditional postie jobs would be scrapped under the restructure.

A union representative suggested Australia Post would fire up to 2,000 staff under the guise of restructuring the business

A union representative suggested Australia Post would fire up to 2,000 staff under the guise of restructuring the business 

Australia Post has categorically denied the allegations in a statement.  

‘No postie that is directly impacted by the implementation of the ADM (alternating delivery model) will be forced to accept a redundancy,’ the statement read.

‘Australia Post also has no plans to cut posties’ take-home pay.’

But Mr Murphy said the statement was further proof jobs cuts were coming.

‘Australia Post has very carefully worded a statement that says that no postie ‘directly impacted by the implementation of the ADM will be forced to accept ­redundancy’,’ he said.

‘That doesn’t rule out workers indirectly impacted, such as van drivers and processing workers, being hit with forced redundancy. Nor does it mean there won’t be large scale job losses. In fact, it all but confirms there will be.’  

Australia Post slammed the claims in a statement on Monday and said posties would not be forced out of a job due to the restructure

Australia Post slammed the claims in a statement on Monday and said posties would not be forced out of a job due to the restructure

Woolworths

Woolworths also announced it would be making 1,350 workers redundant by 2025. 

Three distribution centres will close across New South Wales in Mulgrave, Yennora and Minchinbury amid plans to erect two automated sites in Moorebank, southwest Sydney.

Woolworths budgeted $176million for redundancy payments, though Woolworths chief executive Brad Banducci said the company planned to reintegrate staff into other areas of the company where possible.

‘Woolworths Group is committed to supporting team members at sites that will close,’ he said. 

Woolworths also announced it would be making 1,350 workers redundant by 2025

Woolworths also announced it would be making 1,350 workers redundant by 2025

‘It will be a number of years until the closure of our existing facilities, which will provide the opportunity to explore meaningful redeployment opportunities for our team.’

The automated sites should be completed by 2023. Woolworths has invested up to $780million in the redevelopment. 

‘Moorebank will transform the way we serve our NSW grocery customers. The new facilities will advance our localised ranging efforts, with the ability to hold over 30% more products than existing facilities,’ Mr Banducci said.

‘Automation will allow the creation of aisle-specific pallets by store, and in doing so, reduce the time to restock shelves and result in better on-shelf availability for customers.’

The Moorebank sites will create around 650 positions and more than 1,000 jobs in the construction phase. 

Woolworths chief executive Brad Banducci said the company would redeploy as many staff as possible

Woolworths chief executive Brad Banducci said the company would redeploy as many staff as possible

Woolworths supermarket division recorded an 8.6% increase in total sales growth for the ten weeks to June 14

Woolworths supermarket division recorded an 8.6% increase in total sales growth for the ten weeks to June 14

Deloitte and PwC

On Monday, Deloitte, one of the big four professional service firms in Australia, announced it would slash 700 jobs.

The business currently employs more than 10,000 people in Australia. 

Richard Deutsch, Deloitte’s chief executive, said it was a necessary measure in the wake of the coronavirus downturn.

‘From the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis two of our important principles have been to preserve as many jobs as possible while also protecting the long-term sustainability of the firm,’ he said.

‘Unfortunately, the last quarter of our 2020 financial year has seen a substantial drop in revenue and operating profit. We expect this trend to extend into at least the first quarter of our new financial year.’    

Similarly, PwC announced it would cut 400 roles in consultancy and finance during the coronavirus crisis. 

Staff were told about the cuts, which would impact about five per cent of the workforce, on July 17.  

On Monday, Deloitte, one of the big four professional service firms in Australia, announced it would slash 700 jobs

On Monday, Deloitte, one of the big four professional service firms in Australia, announced it would slash 700 jobs

Cricket Australia, National Rugby League and Rugby Australia

The coronavirus lockdown also put a temporary end to professional sport in Australia. 

As a result, Cricket Australia was forced to get rid of 40 staff to free up finances.

The cuts, as well as a decision to pause any international tours, will save up to $40million.

‘We recognise that this is a difficult time for Cricket Australia employees, particularly for those staff members affected by these redundancies and their families,’ Cricket Australia chairman Earl Eddings said in a statement on June 17.

‘However, our responsibility is clear — to navigate a path for cricket through this period of uncertainty and disruption to ensure we come out the other side sustainable in the short term and prosperous in the long term.’

The coronavirus lockdown also put a temporary end to professional sport in Australia. As a result, Cricket Australia was forced to get rid of 40 staff to free up finances. Pictured: Australian cricket team during a March match in South Africa

The coronavirus lockdown also put a temporary end to professional sport in Australia. As a result, Cricket Australia was forced to get rid of 40 staff to free up finances. Pictured: Australian cricket team during a March match in South Africa

A further 47 staff and 30 contractors were let go from Rugby Australia for the same reason.

Interim Rugby Australia CEO Rob Clarke said the numbers made up about 40 per cent of the work force. 

‘I take it very seriously because it’s impacting people’s lives and family’s lives. So, it’s something that we must do very responsibly, but I did think it was necessary, and the board supported that,’ he said. 

Back in April, NRL’s chief executive Todd Greenberg foreshadowed some 40 jobs would be lost as the game worked to get back on its feet during the pandemic.

‘I think it will be more than that,’ he said at the time. Just three weeks later, he quit from his role within the organisation. 

News Corp 

Hundreds of jobs at News Corp Australia will be axed as the company shuts down suburban and regional titles across the nation in a long-foreshadowed switch from print to digital.

Struggling with declining sales and plummeting advertising dollars, exacerbated by the coronovirus lockdowns, News Corp Australia broke the news to its employees that many of them were likely to get the chop in late May. 

News Corp Australasia executive chairman Michael Miller said in a statement that from June 29 the bulk of its community and regional titles would go digital only.

A Herald Sun newspaper is seen on a news stand in Melbourne. While it is business as usual at the publication, change is coming quickly

A Herald Sun newspaper is seen on a news stand in Melbourne. While it is business as usual at the publication, change is coming quickly 

Mr Miller said about 375 journalists would cover regional and community news, down from more than 1,000. 

‘Today’s announcements… will mean some job roles will change and regretfully, will lead to job losses,’ he told staff. 

The demise of the print editions will see a 1,400km stretch of Queensland without access to a local daily newspaper, including the Sunshine Coast, Bundaberg, Gladstone, Rockhampton and Mackay.

Mr Miller blamed COVID-19 for much of the company’s woes.

‘COVID-19 has impacted the sustainability of community and regional publishing,’ he wrote.   

Staff at the Herald Sun in Melbourne learnt about changes to the business from online news reports the day before it was made official

Staff at the Herald Sun in Melbourne learnt about changes to the business from online news reports the day before it was made official

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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