Staff shortages plaguing Broken Hill businesses

Visitors to the iconic Silverton Hotel experienced reduced kitchen hours due to staff shortages over the past week, with the kitchen having to close earlier than usual, while KFC reduced services on Monday due to staff shortages.

“I walked 1.6 km and found the KFC restaurant closed. There was a sign to say they were only doing drive-throughs due to staff issues,” one customer said.

Employers who usually find backpackers or working visa holders to fill temporary employment positions have also struggled to find staff.

Peter Price, who has operated the Silverton Hotel for the past 13 years, is one of those employers.

Staff numbers at the Hotel have dropped from 15 to their five-core staff in recent weeks.

“The drop in staff is a cyclic thing. Staff travel through, we hire them for three to four months, and then they move on, but now there’s no one moving through wanting work.” Mr Price said.

“The last three years have been the worst time to attract labour.”

The decline in workers in the area is something of a mystery but may well be due to fewer people travelling due to COVID-19 and the knock on effect of that.

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Some sectors of the hospitality industry are also still adjusting from the fallout of an Inquiry into working holiday visa conditions in Australia in 2016 that found substantial and unsafe working conditions, as well as problems associated with isolation for 417 working holiday visa-holders.

Meanwhile here in our region, the Silverton Hotel is preparing for the upcoming Mundi Mundi Bash and has employed 26 temporary staff from Adelaide.

However, Mr Price estimates they may need about 40 staff to cover the weekend of the Bash.

On Monday night, they had a family group of 21 stay in Silverton and had to call on friends in Broken Hill to help.

Mr Price said people have been very accommodating about the Hotel needing to close the kitchen early.

He encourages anyone interested in work to bring their resume to him at the Silverton Hotel.
After being an employer for 50 years, he advises that the best way to get a job is to present yourself well, dress in a tidy state, and be willing to have or learn a work ethic.

“I really want to find people who want to work, sending resumes is not ideal. I’d prefer the person presents their resume in person, that way, I can sit down and chat with them,” he said.

The Silverton Hotel has multiple shifts available and Mr Price said he is very open to negotiating work hours.

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Age is also no barrier, as he and his wife Patsy are in their 70s.

He is open to people doing one shift per week, a few hours in the day, or a few hours at night.

Some days the Silverton Hotel makes 200 meals at lunchtime and 60 meals a night.

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