A running list of the major companies shedding jobs during COVID-19

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The coronavirus pandemic has seen Australia’s economy fall and unemployment rise. So what has happened to some of the country’s biggest companies during that time?

The pandemic has seen entire industries suffer downturns in revenue, and unemployment takes a sharp turn with an estimated one million Australians out of work.

Earlier this week, Qantas Airways laid off up to 6,000 jobs, which is 20 per cent of their workforce. 

Chief executive Alan Joyce explained the decision saying, “We have to position ourselves for several years where revenue will be much lower.”

The Australian Bureau of Statistics says at least one in five employed people, which comes to 2.3 million people, either lost jobs in the months of April and May -- or saw reduced hours.

In April, the Guardian’s job loss tracker found the hospitality industry had lost more than 200,000 jobs. 

So which major companies in Australia have shed jobs during the pandemic?

Three of the big four firms cut jobs

In April, KPMG announced a cut of 200 jobs, equating to 2 per cent of their 9,000 employees in Australia. They were the first of the big four firms to make the decision to cut roles, despite 99 per cent of staff agreeing a 20 per cent voluntary pay cut. 

“We too have to make tough calls. And the decisions announced today are geared at protecting as many jobs as possible today, and for the future. I strongly believe these measures will help ward off larger job impacts in the longer term,” KPMG chief executive Gary Wingrove said.

“We have limited these impacts as much as possible, and I sincerely regret that some of our colleagues will be leaving us.”

Earlier this week Deloitte followed suit. The big four firm has shed 700 jobs among its 10,000 employees. 

In a statement released on xxx Deloitte Australia chief executive, Richard Deutsch said the job losses "would not have occurred had it not been for the impact of COVID-19."

"This has not been an easy day," Deutsch said. 

PwC is the third of the big four firms to cut jobs. Of there 8,000 employees they will be making 400 jobs in their consulting and advisory units redundant. 


Myer is making 90 jobs in their Melbourne office redundant in efforts to restructure their business plans during the pandemic. 

A Myer spokesperson said COVID-19 brought an unknown future for retail conditions means the company has needed to “refine and adapt” their business plans in a changing retail landscape. 

“As a result, we will be putting a leaner and more agile business model in place to ensure we are best placed to successfully manage the period ahead,” the spokesperson said.

John Holland Group

After recording a loss of $60 million in the last financial year, Chinese owned construction company John Holland Group announced they will be cutting 150 to 200 jobs. 

The job cut is being labeled a restructure by the group, who are currently working on the West Gate Tunnel and the Sydney Metro. 

In a statement, Joe Barr, the chief executive said after reporting the loss in 2019 the company took steps to freeze wages and hiring as well as cancel executive bonuses. 

“Regrettably, it is clear that this is not enough. We have to heighten our focus on business sustainability. This has been a very hard decision to make, but one that is essential to ensure a strong future,” he said in a statement.

News Corp and ABC job cuts

At the end of May, News Corp Australia announced the closure of over 100 of the company’s regional papers which have been reported as potentially reaching over 500 job losses. 

“These initiatives to reposition News Corp Australia for growth will involve some job role changes and regretfully, some job losses,” a News Corp spokesperson told Mumbrella in a statement.

More recently, the ABC announced this week a new slate of 250 job cuts in efforts to deal with an $84 million budget cut in 2018. The downsizing will see the loss of 70 jobs in the News division, 53 in the Entertainment and Specialist division, and 19 in the Regional and Local division.  

It will also see the flagship 7.45am radio news bulletin no longer be produced, and online portal ABC Life will be moved into ABC Local. 

"We anticipate we may farewell as many as 250 colleagues through this process," ABC managing director David Anderson told staff.


Despite earlier this month Australia’s major supermarket brand Woolworths recording a large increase of over 13,000 new employees, the company is said to be cutting jobs. 

There are around 1,350 Woolworth warehouse jobs that will be automated by 2025. It comes as the company acknowledges they owe up to $90 million in unpaid wages to staff.

“It will be a number of years until the closure of our existing facilities, which will provide the opportunity to explore meaningful redeployment opportunities for our team,” he said.

“We are also committed to a long-term investment in supporting all of our teams with the skills and training required for the workforce of tomorrow.”

The National Gallery of Australia 

The National Gallery of Australia will also downsize operations with 30 to 40 jobs expected to be lost, which makes up 12 per cent of their workforce. The announcement was made on June 23, and the voluntary redundancy process will go for the next three weeks. 

The NGA director Nick Mitzevich released a statement on Tuesday detailing a $3.6 million loss in revenue for the gallery. In a bid to protect the long term future of the gallery Mitzevich said redundancies will be necessary. 

"The new structure will focus the National Gallery's programs and create greater opportunities for the Australian and international community to engage with the national collection beyond its physical presence in Canberra," NGA said in a statement.

Are there signs of positivity? 

Earlier this month, SEEK Employment released a report showing an increase of almost 40 per cent growth of jobs advertised on the website month on month. 

The industries that have found their feet and are looking to aiding the growth of job ads according to their data include, hospitality and tourism which is up by 138 per cent, trades and services in second with an uptick of 36 per cent and transport and logistics which has received a 33 per cent rise.

Kendra Banks the managing director of SEEK ANZ said in a statement, “We continued to see promising signs within the employment market during May, with all states and most industry sectors showing positive month-on-month job ad growth.”

“We are encouraged to see industries which were hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic rebounding at a good pace.

“Authorities gave businesses the green light to restart their operations, resulting in increased hiring activity. Top jobs in the sector included chefs and cooks and front of house staff."