Fruit pickers from Timor-Leste flown into Australia

Fruit pickers from East Timor have boarded a Qantas flight to Australia due to shortage of backpackers to fill the fruit picker jobs. They are helping alleviate the critical labour shortage in that nation’s agriculture industry. Dozens of workers in face masks were seen lining up on the tarmac at Nicolau Lobato International Airport in Dili on Wednesday.

Earlier statements said Tasmania would welcome 150 workers from Timor-Leste in early December to help out with fruit picking. Pacific Islander workers were recently allowed to bypass coronavirus travel bans to take on farm work - though the number who have flown into the country is only about 1,000. They will be required to quarantine for a fortnight before beginning work

Australians are also being offered up to $6,000 in cash if they relocate to regional areas for farm work for just six weeks. The cash lure was introduced a month ago, but only a meagre 148 people have signed up to the program. 

Farms across the country have been scrambling to fill 26,000 jobs to harvest and pack produce after COVID-19 travel bans decimated their seasonal workforce, usually made of foreign workers. 


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