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Coles, Woolworths, Aldi hire ‘thousands’ as staff self-isolate

Image of Woolworths, Coles, Aldi supermarkets, with empty Aldi shelves
Woolworths, Coles and Aldi are all going on recruitment drives. (Source: Getty)

A major recruitment blitz is underway at Australia’s three biggest supermarket giants as the spiralling Delta outbreaks force workers to stay home, leaving shelves bare.

Coles, Woolworths and Aldi have all confirmed with Yahoo Finance they are hiring “thousands” more workers as reports emerge of staff members forced to stay home in isolation, resulting in significant distribution issues and supply shortages.

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Images circulated on social media reveal some supermarkets have been left nearly completely bare as a result of thousands of workers being named as close contacts.

More than 6,500 distribution and store workers had to isolate at home last week, with Woolworths CEO confirming 3,300 staff were in isolation.

While many have since returned to work, supermarkets are now hiring hundreds more with the expectation that employees will be forced to isolate at some point in the future.

A Woolworths spokesperson told Yahoo Finance the Delta outbreaks had placed “a lot of pressure” on NSW supply chains in the last few weeks.

“The good news is we're now steadily ramping up our distribution capacity once again. We expect our stock levels to improve over the coming days and thank customers for their patience,” the spokesperson said.

“We’re also actively recruiting for hundreds of new distribution centre team members across Australia to help us provide the food and essentials our communities need."

Images of empty Coles Woolworths, Aldi supermarket shelves during pandemic
Throughout the pandemic, supermarket shelves have been emptied amid panic shopping and supply chain issues or temporary staffing shortages. (Source: Getty)

Staffers from other stores are called in for shifts at any Coles stores particularly hard-hit by workers in isolation, a Coles spokesperson told Yahoo Finance.

“We rotate team members from other stores and utilise labour hire to assist with tasks like stocking shelves and replenishment,” the spokesperson said.

“Our recruitment is targeted to ongoing positions in the business. We hire several thousand people across the country every month in a variety of roles.”

Meanwhile, Aldi has revealed it is hiring 1,000 permanent full-time and part-time roles in what a spokesperson described as “the largest hiring spree in Aldi Australia’s 20-year history”.

“As buying behaviour changes in the lead up to Christmas, these new roles will ensure we strengthen our team,” an Aldi spokesperson told Yahoo Finance.

“There are opportunities that would suit all levels of experience, from store assistant to store and logistics manager roles.”

Australians have been warned to plan ahead for their Christmas shopping as COVID-19 continues to disrupt global supply chains and retailers struggle to meet demand.

“The supply out of Asia has been the worst I’ve seen in forty years of retail history,” former Myer CEO Bernie Brookes told The Guardian.

“It’s quite dramatically bad, and it will not be particularly good coming into Christmas.”

“There will also be some inconsistency of supply through the Christmas period because most people ordered Christmas stock for delivery in October, November, and there’s a really high inconsistency of supply.”

Australia Post has also announced it is embarking on a hiring spree, with the postal service buckling under the sheer volume of parcels being sent as Australians take to online shopping during lockdown.

AusPost had to temporarily pause collections from online retailers in order to get through the backlog of parcels in its network waiting to be sent.

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