Learning English - Words in the News
21 January, 2008 - Published 12:29 GMT
Australia sheep shearer shortage
Australia's wool industry is facing a significant shortage of sheep shearers. Poor working conditions and the attractions of better paid jobs in the country's booming mining sector have led to an exodus of shearers. From Sydney, Phil Mercer reports:
Australia's sheep shearers have been deserting the industry in droves. The most recent figures show that between 2003 and 2006 almost a quarter walked away. The shearing sheds have faced tough competition from Australia's mining sector, which has experienced unprecedented growth. It's offered better wages and less demanding working conditions.
Shearing is often a back-breaking job where thousands of kilograms of sheep meat are shifted every day. Joe Sullivan from research company Australian Wool Innovation says workers continue to leave the industry.
Australia's long-standing drought has reduced sheep numbers and although farmers need fewer shearers there still aren't enough to go round. Efforts are being made to attract new recruits and increase productivity. There are training courses around the country and researchers are looking at ways to make the job easier.
A good shearer can get through 200 sheep a day, but the punishing work often leads to chronic back pain and other injuries.
aren't enough to go round
the punishing work
chronic back pain