Melbourne pub owners provide meals for stood down employees

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The Lincoln Pub in Carlton, Melbourne.
Hotel Lincoln in Carlton, Melbourne. Credit: Supplied

Melbourne hospitality businesses are banding together to create a service which provides food to their workers who are doing it tough. 

The COVID-19 Employee Assistance Directive (COVID-19 EAD) was created in the wake of the collapse of the hospitality industry due to the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the founding members of the initiative is Iain Ling, owner of one of Melbourne’s longest standing pubs, Hotel Lincoln, in Carlton. 

Having been closed since March with a brief four-week open period in July, Mr Ling, who also runs two other consumer-facing businesses, says they won’t be able to manage much longer. 

“The hospitality industry has been left completely devastated,” says Mr Ling. “We’ve adapted by opening up a shop but that’s not going to last forever.”

Under a reopening roadmap outlined by the Victorian government on Sunday, hospitality businesses won’t be able to open their indoor dining rooms until at least November 23, after there are no cases recorded in Victoria for 14 consecutive days.

“When JobKeeper drops down in 2 weeks some of my staff are going to be pushed below the poverty line and I can’t afford to top it up. I just don’t know what we are supposed to do.”

Related: “Businesses respond coolly to the Coronavirus SME guarantee scheme”

COVID-19 EAD was started by two Melbourne bar owners, who were trying to keep their recently stood down employees fed. This quickly turned into an outreach program with the mission of raising the spirits of as many unemployed hospitality professionals as they could afford to feed.

Mr Ling is unimpressed by the “lack of support” from the government, and the toll this has taken on his employees.

Hotel Lincoln owner, Iain Ling.
Credit: Supplied

“Every small business owner in the hospitality sector is counselling their staff on a daily basis,” he says. “Where’s the hope? Where’s the comradery? Where’s the ‘We’re in this together’? Because it’s definitely not coming from the government.”

“The Premier’s plan is going to take us nowhere. The hospitality industry is suffering so much, and I just can’t see how [Premier Andrews] could be taking on the thoughts of the industry and still come to this conclusion.”

All members of the COVID-19 EAD are volunteers and all funds are used to purchase, prepare and deliver food and essential supplies. Direct deposit donations over $2 are tax deductible.

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