Restaurant & Catering Australia CEO, Juliana Payne, has demanded no increase in the minimum wage in 2019 due to the above-inflation increases of recent years. From The Australian:
Restaurant and cafe owners have called for a minimum wage freeze, declaring that the Fair Work Commission should impose a real wage cut on low-paid workers by not granting any increase this year.
Restaurant and Catering Australia, which represents 45,000 businesses nationally, said a freeze was justified given the financial pressures on employers resulting from increased competition and the impact of above-inflation minimum wage increases granted by the commission in recent years.
The industry’s call for a real wage cut comes after it was last year found to be ground zero for wage theft:
Businesses have been forced to pay back almost half a million dollars to 616 workers following Fair Work ombudsman audits of the hospitality industry in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane that found 72% of businesses had breached workplace laws.
Fair Work inspectors visited 243 businesses on Victoria Street in Melbourne’s Richmond, Glebe Point Road in Sydney’s Glebe and at Fortitude Valley in Brisbane. They interviewed staff and checked employment records, issuing 71 on-the-spot fines and 63 formal cautions, and finding workers were owed $471,904.
Of the businesses found in breach of workplace laws, 38% underpaid their staff, while 28% failed to keep adequate employment records and pay slips. Failure to pay overtime or to give staff adequate meal breaks were other common issues…
The Fair Work ombudsman, Natalie James, said she was disappointed by the high level of non-compliance, but not surprised. One in 10 disputes resolved by the ombudsman last financial year involved a restaurant, a cafe or a takeaway food outlet, and nearly one-third of the most serious cases the ombudsman takes to court involves the sector…
“This is an industry-wide problem and it needs an industry-wide response. There are over 50,000 cafes, restaurants and takeaway outlets in Australia, and the Fair Work ombudsman cannot fix this one cafe at a time.”
The audits found the non-compliance rate was the highest on Victoria Street, with breaches identified at 81% of businesses, compared with 70% (47 of 67) on Glebe Point Road and 60% (44 of 73) at Fortitude Valley.
These findings came after the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) in 2017 revealed that foreign workers are involved in more than three-quarters of legal cases initiated by the FWO against unscrupulous employers.
Again, what’s the point of hiking a minimum wage that nobody pays anyway?
MB long ago observed that the rampant importation of cheap foreign labour over this cycle triggered a structural adjustment in the Aussie economy in which entire supply chains internalised wage rorting. Some even go so far as to make labour a profit centre through the selling of visas versus the paying of wages.
The problem of low wages growth won’t be solved until the avenue for cheap foreign labour is closed-off via restricting immigration – both temporary and permanent.