MAJOR PUSH TO SALVAGE JOBS
THE Whitsunday business community is rallying to the aid of Fantasea Adventure Cruising staff in an effort to find jobs for those who may soon be unemployed.
A business forum to introduce prospective employers to the Fantasea pool of employees will be held at the PCYC tomorrow Friday, June 22 from 5.30pm.
PRDnationwide licensee Christie Leet, who has been instrumental in getting the forum off the ground, said the idea started through "a push to avoid losing 80-odd families out of the community".
Mr Leet said it was his understanding that Cruise Whitsundays, who are taking over Fantasea's Whitsunday operations by the middle of next month, would be able to absorb some, but not all of roughly 120 Fantasea employees, including contractual staff.
"It's urgent that the business community comes together to provide some certainty," he said.
Mr Leet said the worst-case scenario was that people who lost their jobs could also sell their homes and move away.
Fantasea general manager Matt Lloyd said the forum was providing a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel for many concerned members of staff.
"From the staff point of view we want to thank the community. From Christie's first phone call [last] Friday afternoon it's provided hope in an uncertain environment," he said.
Any business that employs a Fantasea staff member will receive a free family pass to the Great Barrier Reef, to be used prior to handover of the business, by way of thanks.
JU-LEE Pollard is just one small business owner involved in the Fantasea Adventure Cruising chain. Ms Pollard owns the Laundromat at Beach Plaza, which up until now held the ferry company's laundry contract.
"If they take that away, I'm down about $1000 a month, which is my rent," Ms Pollard said.
"Now it's a matter of where do I go from here to replace that, or do I go under after 20 years in business?" she said.
Ms Pollard, like many other Fantasea contractors and employees, will be applying to take-over company Cruise Whitsundays to keep her contract.
Cruise Whitsundays owner Chris Jacobs confirmed he was definitely interested in employing between 40-50 staff and that the Fantasea family would be given "first dibs".
"They're absolutely right - there is a shortfall, but there's also a sizeable opportunity for people to come and work for us," Mr Jacobs said.
Meanwhile, Mr Jacobs said contractors were a "bit of a mixed bag".
"We are talking to some of the contractors but unfortunately we have existing contractual arrangements and with suppliers that we're very happy with as well," he said.
Mr Jacobs said it had already been decided that the catering would stay with Fish D'Vine and the diving with Reef Safari, "because we're very happy with the service they're providing".
"We're not just adding Fantasea to Cruise Whitsundays - it's about finding different, smarter ways to do things," he said.
"I don't think there's a single business in town that hasn't squared up to that."
Mr Jacobs said he understood the "emotional side of it" and spoke positively about the job forum on Friday night.
"I think it's a great thing that the community's doing. We will probably go along to reiterate that there are positions available.
"Equally, the success that we hope to create off the back of this will create more employment and more stability in the tourism industry in the long run," he said.