Friday, January 13, 2012

Colambaris v Shorten

There has been quite a few media reports on the impact of the Fair Work Act on the restaurant industry, particularly with regards weekend penalty rates.  This follows criticism from celebrity masterchef George Colambaris:
"waiters at his new South Yarra pasta den Mama Baba would have to be paid "$40 an hour on Sundays ... and it's not like they've had to go to uni for 15 years"
The Restaurant and Catering Association has released a list of ten points they want addressed howver the key issue seems to be penalty rates, flexible hours, and the "better off overall" test. Shorten suggests that tthe solution is to improve productivity.
"If George wants to bargain with his workers and improve productivity and be even more competitive, then the tools exist in our present workplace system."
I'm not sure that the potential for productivity improvement in a service sector such as restaurants is quite the equivalent of sectors such as manufacturing, mining and agriculture which have been the productivity leaders over time? At least not without being at the expense of quality. Perhaps he has a buffet in mind?

There has been a suggestion of more prevalent weekend and holiday surcharges. As previously posted at Kitchenslut not many are aware that the ACCC requires a completely different menu with surcharge prices and that simply advising that there is a 10% surcharge is inadequate. This seems to me to be an unnecessary impost.

Further reports in The Australian: fair-work-fails-to-cater-for-us-say-cafes & pressure-builds-for-open-fair-work-review.

Meanwhile Matt Cowgill takes on the claims of Colombaris:
"If Mr Calombaris’ story was accurate and modern awards were strangling his industry, we’d expect to see the profitability of restaurants go down, and employment in food and beverage service go down. This hasn’t happened"

1 comment:

  1. haha, re. the buffet. That's a great point you make about the industry's productivity prospects.