Contributed by Ugly
Australia’s hospitality industry is in urgent need of a thorough clean up. Disclosures of restaurant and café owners under paying their staff keeps on coming.
The latest is a place called Barry, where when staff asked why they were underpaid $5 an hour, their shifts were cancelled indefinitely. In normal language this means they were sacked.
Barry is in the trendy Westgarth High Street strip in Northcote, an inner Melbourne suburb.
This is the sort of thing that goes on far too often, even though the government has already cut penalty rates for working on the weekend and are about to bring in another cut. There is no excuse for it.
Owners brother and sister Steve and Anne Petroulias, have been paying their staff just $18 an hour.
Part of the problem was that staff wanted to approach the owners as a group, and they wanted to deal with each one separately, as if they were individual contractors. They demanded to know who the ringleader is and turned on their staff when they refused to answer.
Staff turned to the Young Workers Centre for support and they got it. A letter was drawn up, signed by all and sent. With the support of members of United Voice (the union covering the industry) have protested outside the Café.
Jess Walsh is the Victorian secretary of the union, which is mounting a campaign against underpayment in the industry said that “The way Barry Cafe has behaved could not be further away from the ethos of this community.
“We will be coming out in force to stand with these workers to send a strong message to this cafe and venues across the state that we are not going to put up with this kind of treatment of hospitality workers any longer.”
This is a great thing to hear. It brings some confidence that with staff union and customers taking a stand against wage theft, it can be removed from the industry.