In a truly shit move, hospitality business owners and industry leaders are campaigning to freeze minimum wage for the industry’s lowest-paid workers to help them widen their profit margins and, they say, keep food and drink prices lower for customers.
While the cost of living soars due to an inflation growth rate almost three times the rate of wage growth, the some in the hospitality industry are arguing once again that paying people properly is too hard.
The Restaurant and Catering Industry Association called for the wage freeze in its submission to the Fair Work Commission’s annual wage review this week. Chief executive Wes Lambert said if wages rose it was “only a matter of time” before cafes charged $7 for a coffee.
Just to be clear, no one’s charging $7 for a basic flat white or long black. That literally has not happened yet.
It’s the same fear-mongering Barnaby Joyce famously used in 2012 when he said Labor’s proposed carbon tax would inflate meat prices and see hardworking Australians pay $100 for a lamb roast.
It’s not the first time the association, which also publicly opposed sick leave for casual workers this month, attempted to freeze minimum wage and hospitality business owners in Australia have long lamented wage overheads were too high to turn a decent profit.
Employers have said it’s hard to make a buck so everyone should have a bit of understanding when wage theft scandals break in the news. It’s rife in the industry! What could I have done!
Well, if you can’t afford to pay your staff the legal required award wages, maybe you should try another business venture. If you have to break the law to turn a profit, maybe you shouldn’t.
The wage cost for a hospitality business is usually around 30 per cent but can be up to 50 per cent depending on the business. And there’s no denying small businesses have suffered greatly after multiple lockdowns, COVID-19 waves, closed borders and, in NSW and Queensland, devastating floods.
But praying on the industry’s most weak and vulnerable by asking them to take the hit is not fuckin’ it.
It’s the job of governments to, through taxation, ensure cost of living is affordable and we know that if wages go up, people are more likely to spend on things like coffees and meals out.
What’s truly a matter of time though is outrage from unions, who have argued workers deserved a 5 per cent or $2,000 per year increase to keep up with inflation.
The Australian Council of Trade Unions called for the minimum wage to increase from $20.33 an hour to $21.35 this week to support the 2.67 million workers who rely on the annual wage review — not their bosses — for a pay rise.
ACTU secretary Sally McManus said a 5 per cent boost was “what is needed for Australian workers to keep their heads above water with inflation and the cost of living rapidly rising”.
Restaurant and Catering’s Lambert also attributed low business profits due to staff shortages.
“That is absolutely evident in advertisements for nearly 100,000 open positions in accommodation and food services at rates that are well above the award, with some barista and kitchen hand positions earning nearly six-figures,” he told Guardian Australia.
If baristas were routinely being offered six-figure salaries I’d hazard a guess more people would want to do it, I know I would! The reason people decide they maybe don’t want to pursue or continue their hospo careers is probably the notoriously low wages, long hours and toxic work culture. That’s what did it for me!
Anyway, wage theft bad, wage growth good, tip your waiter.