The new frontliners: Working for free

THE new front line of the coronavirus crisis is Gold Coasters like restaurant manager Ann-Rike Kruse - working for free to ensure the business which sponsors her survives the unprecedented restrictions.

The German 35-year-old who works at Surfers Paradise beachfront cafe and bar Elston returned to work on Saturday but admitted she was effectively volunteering, working without pay to do her bit to help ensure Elston's survival post-pandemic.

She has been the manager since the middle of last year and knows she is crucial to the operation, a familiar face for regulars and doesn't want to leave owner Matt Lucas in the lurch at a time when survival post-pandemic is crucial.

Elston Restaurant & Bar in Surfers Paradise venue manager Ann-Rike Kruse, of Germany but living on the Gold Coast for five years: “Scomo said ‘Go home’ but I have friends, a life, work here and I have worked hard for that. I have a cat.” Picture: Jerad Williams
Elston Restaurant & Bar in Surfers Paradise venue manager Ann-Rike Kruse, of Germany but living on the Gold Coast for five years: “Scomo said ‘Go home’ but I have friends, a life, work here and I have worked hard for that. I have a cat.” Picture: Jerad Williams

So she is living on her savings, ignoring Prime Minister Scott Morrison's advice several weeks ago telling foreigners the best idea for them was to return to their home country.

She has lived on the Gold Coast for five years and now considers it home but falls through the cracks of the Jobseeker and new JobKeeper welfare payments.

"Scomo said 'Go home' butbut I have friends, a life, work here and I have worked hard for that. I have a cat.

"I thought I'm going to live off my savings," she said.

Asked why she was prepared to work for free, she told the Bulletin: "I want to come out the other side and I want this business to come out the other side."

Elston is sponsoring her work visa, she said, adding: "My boss doesn't expect me to come in and work for free but I want to work.

"Matt is a really good boss and he will never forget I'm a good employee. At the end of the day if the business does not succeed, then I will be trying to find another work sponsor.

"Plus all our regulars I have known for a long time when they came back they want to see me, not someone they don't know.

Ann-Rike Kruse at Elston on Saturday. Picture: Jerad Williams
Ann-Rike Kruse at Elston on Saturday. Picture: Jerad Williams

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"And I have nothing else to do - I could spend my time painting my apartment."

Ms Kruse said: "I've been all over the place and my poor boss Matt had to go through all of the tears but he's very supportive and he is supporting me whenever he can."

In the meantime, she will continue to pull shifts overseeing several wait staff and two chefs now back in work thanks to eased stage one restrictions allowing venues to serve 10 patrons at a time.

On Saturday, she was busy ensuring the venue ran smoothly and didn't breach the 10-patron limit, whilst also ensuring staff took patron names and numbers for future coronavirus contact tracing.

"We are taking it all very seriously. I don't want to take the risk of us getting locked back up again.

"We are disinfecting everything once a customer goes and before someone sits down again."

Originally published as The new frontliners: Working for free



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