Restaurants serving up side of wage theft
Another high profile restaurant has been exposed for underpaying staff in breach of current workplace laws.
Rockpool Dining Group, fronted by celebrity chef Neil Perry, announced it will pay back $1.6 million to staff after an investigation by Fairfax Media uncovered systemic wage underpayments.
The $1.6 million to be paid by Rockpool has been referred to as ‘top-up’ payments for the 2017-2018 financial year following claims staff were being paid for 38 hours per week despite regularly working 20 to 30 hours of unpaid overtime.
Some weeks, it is claimed, staff were paid as little as $15 per hour.
An investigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman into further potential underpayment continues despite Rockpool’s announced backpay.
Rockpool is Australia’s largest premium restaurant business and posted a $40 million operating profit in 2017-2018.
IEUA-QNT Branch Secretary Terry Burke said the case was just another example of an endemic culture of exploiting employees that has been uncovered across Australia.
“From big businesses to celebrity chefs, Australia’s recent history has been littered with cases of wage theft by employers preying on the most vulnerable workers,” Mr Burke said.
“Every worker in Australia is entitled to receive their minimum terms and conditions under the Fair Work Act including the minimum wage.
“Each time such a case is uncovered, our movement must shine a light on such shameful employer activity – not only to tell them that such action will not be tolerated but to reiterate to workers the value and importance of being part of their union.
Mr Burke said the national union-led Change The Rules campaign was a driving force to improve our industrial rules.
“Our union is strongly engaged with the Change The Rules campaign; our members are fighting for the right of all workers to not be exploited in their work and to have access to a secure job with fair pay.”