Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Industrially speaking......

Chatting with a hospitality employer today bought up some interesting but startling facts about the new Fair Work Australia industrial laws in relation to our cafes and restaurants.

The Fair Work Australia federal government web site tells me:

From 1 January 2010, several important changes in Australia’s workplace laws affect all employers and employees in the national workplace relations system.
The changes include the introduction of new National Employment Standards (NES), many state employers moving into the national system, and the commencement of modern awards.
From 1 January 2010, modern awards essentially replace existing awards, notional agreements preserving state awards (NAPSAs) and the Australian Fair Pay and Conditions Standard (the Standard).
Other changes introduced on 1 July 2009 include
· revised enterprise bargaining arrangements
· streamlined protections dealing with workplace rights and industrial activities including protection against discrimination and unfair dismissal
· two new organisations to regulate the system - Fair Work Australia and the Fair Work Ombudsman.
The new national workplace relations system covers the majority of workplaces in Australia.

In practical terms, this means that if I employ a Level 4 Supervisor in my café, the minimum wage base rate is $16.78/hour + 25% = $20.89 per hour I need to pay them for their Monday to Friday rate.
On Saturdays I need to pay $25.17 per hour, and on Sundays I pay them $29.36. But the massive pay occurs on a public holiday when I have to pay $42 per hour.

Now this is not to say that my Supervisor is not worth their weight in gold, but it DOES mean that if I multiply this by, say, six (for six possible staff I might require on a public holiday), then add the costs of buying in my ingredients for menu items, paying my power, phone, rates, rent, licences etc – I’m well and truly behind the 8 ball.

My choices are to either raise my prices in my café, or add a 20% surcharge for weekends and public holidays.

How does that sound?

This is what I see as a distinct possibility for cafes down the track..
Posted on by Rita


Anonymous said...

Rita that sounds FUCKED!
Might as well only open Mon to Frid & close w/ends & public hols

Rita said...

That was kind of the way I was thinking too Anon!

sir grumpy said...

not many places have SIX supervisors, Rita. Come on.
The pay averages out on probably three cheap days and two slightly more expensive ones.
Hardly anyone opens on public holidays.
Many places add a surcharge already if they do.
Up the workers!

Rita said...

They don't have to be called a Supervisor to be a Level 4, Sir G. That could be their level of prior experience but you can use that as a yardstick for wages.
This post wasn't meant to be a beating for workers. It was pointing out some of the associated costs for restaurant and cafe owners to those who might not take that into consideration when eating out and then subsequently complaining about possible higher costs incurred than they anticipated.
Why are you so aggro lately?

sir grumpy said...

I am NOT aggro Rita, far from it. Sometimes you don't fully flesh out your possie on issues but agree with someone who says ``fucked''.
I always like a fair go for the shirkers!
The industry complains about cost of labour but I've argued that when they also whinge about ``crap staff'', the reason is they pay peanuts.
Some seem to want career waitstaff for nowt. People need a decent wage to have a life and also spend themselves. Or it all grinds to a halt.
Can't have both. What nakes you think I am aggro lately? Mind you, I reserve the right to be a grumpy old bastard.

Anonomouse said...

It's about time this industry got it's act together and starts paying it's employees equivalent rates in line with other industries. Too often people leave this industry due to shit pay, shit bosses, shit working conditions and shit hours. At least now it might keep highly skilled employees in the industry. It may send a lot of businesses broke but at least employees will now get a fair go and won't be worked hours on end.

Too often restaurants and cafe's aren't run like a business - they are run for the owners own amusement for his or her friends and family. I know of one place that was originally meant to be closed Christmas Day but the owners had a whinge to the kitchen and FOH staff and had to open. Then they had the nerve to complain about wages after... It happens everywhere and anytime.

It's all well and good to want to feed people and make people happy but too many people get into restaurant ownership without any business acumen. The fact of the matter is that it's a business - not a play toy. And owners need to realise that they have to follow certain rules and laws - there is no such thing as working "love time" any more or working a 16-18 hour shift with only a ten minute break.

Skilled employees have the chance to make a stand and demand more money and better working conditions. Because employers are soon going to realise that skilled staff are limited and they will just go somewhere else. Look at the IT industry. They started out with fairly low pay but skilled workers flooded the market and started making big money. The money to fund is coming too, with baby boomers retiring soon.

Maggie said...

I don't recall every being paid public holiday pay as a waitress. Or extra on weekends, or after 6pm. Perhaps I should get back in the game, as all I do on a Sunday is lie about and read books anyway.

It could be good for the blog?

Anonymous said...

Anonomouse has said all that needs to be said on this issue well spoken

Anonomouse said...

Thanks :-)

sir grumpy said...

I squeaked up too! a lonely, cast out by Rita sir G said, sadly.

Anonymous said...

I assume that what you are saying is that hospitality workers just got a 25% pay rise accross the board. Bit slightly over and above inflation isn't it.
Ok utilities are up 30% anyhow. Rent is always on the rise, so are supplies.
So lets up the price of everything and boost the inlation for everyone.

Large coffee was $4 new price $5 public holiday $7.50

Steak was $36 new price $43.75 public holiday $55

Toasted sanga $5 new price $6.25
public holiday $7.50

Decent lunch $22 new price $ 27.50 public holiday $35

And you could go on and on.

But lets be realistic, its not going to be 25% increase its going to be more like 30 or 40 %. And when the poor workers realise that there own days off are going to cost more, then hey presto they go back and ask for more wages. How do you think we got the absurdity that is leave loading in the first place.

And finaly, it won't be the lower end places closing. No, I think you will find that the above average establishments will be the first to go. The lower end with its high volume deep fried pre fozen shit will thrive. So no change then.

Anonomouse said...

Not a fan?

Anonymous said...

The reason so many hospitality staff in tasmania are useless is that the pay is crap, customers are becoming ruder, no one gives tips and the only thing management want is to make money. Screw everything else. Look i have a friend who works in industry. the business she works for is totally dodge. she continually has to asked to be paid, they put her on part time rates but give her no leave entitlements and the owners treat her like shit. Other workers at that place also dont get paid!!!

Anonymous said...

Im gonna be honest here, i spent the happiest years of my life working in this industry but then it went to shit. some of the places i worked at were a joke. look some business owners do it tough. well it was there decision to go into business. they constantly expect staff to feel sorry for them. well there are starving kids in africa and i cant spend my life feeling sorry for them! They treat there staff like shit and dont pay them properly at all. What goes around comes around.

sir grumpy said...

Well Rita, looks like you are hob-nobbing too much with management and top end and not empathising enough with the workers.
Let them eat chiko rolls, eh? Maybe it is that simple. Look after the business from the bottom up and you build success?
You can tell me to shut up anytime, you know that.

Anonomouse said...

Sure enough, people will complain about an increase in prices at dining establishments. Eventually, people will learn to accept prices for a meal though. Take Sydney for instance. Ten to fifteen years ago, main prices were around $35, now $50 mains are common and $60 mains are starting to show their faces. This is high end restaurant prices I know, but in general high end restaurant prices set the trend for prices that lower end restaurants follow with a $15-20 price difference as a guesstimate.

The main thing though is to get people into the industry and KEEP THEM THEIR. This industry is screaming out for skilled employees. As an estimate, we are short staffed by approx 50% and incentive for people to join is paramount.

The culture of working "love time" i.e unpaid overtime needs to be abolished. It's a product from the dark ages of the industry and we need to bring this industry kicking and screaming into the 21st century. There are plenty of other cultures that need to be abolished but that's another story...

Management is an interesting subject. To me, half the problem is they have no background or qualifications in Business, Economics or Commerce. Yes, there is an art and skill to running a dining room or a kitchen, but I think as a Maitre'd or Head Chef an understanding of Business concepts is important. I'm not saying go and do a Bachelor degree, but some idea of what is required to run a business, what rules & regulations must be followed and so and so forth is almost essential. Ever had a meeting with a chef? They are more often than not arrogant, and usually have no concept of what is conceivable for a business and what is fantasy land.

Employing a dedicated person who deals with costings, SWOT analysis, market research and so on and so forth is not usually a realistic option for most restaurants. Therefore, either the restaurant owner needs to have the technical nous to run a business as well as having some idea of what is concievable in a kitchen/dining room or the chef and maitre'd need to have some business skills as well as there own skill base. Restaurant ownership is not something to take lightly. I wouldn't do it without the business skills let alone a background in restaurant trade.

Back to the wages - I may have said we, as chefs and front of house staff, need to make a stand, but we also need to be able to show that we have the skills to back our demands. As long as training standards are continually improved and we receive quality training up to and exceeding that standard we are laughing.

Anonymous said...

All good points but here my take:

Firstly, to assume that higher wages will attract better staff in hospitality is wrong. You'll just get the same average compacency but you'll be paying more for it.
People have made the point on this blog before that whether you are in a cafe or a high end restaurant, there a certain level of expectation of good service no matter the price point.

Sir G's point about most places not being open on Public holidays is ridiculously out of touch.
Its also illuminating that he has a barely concealed contempt for restaurateurs & cafe owners, assuming they are all ripping off their staff.

To all those that moan about their bosses & crap conditions. No one is forcing you to work there-get another job.

Finally the most obvious thing & only one or two have commented on it is that prices need to go up for food & service. Sat Sun & Pub holidays will attract surcharges. Meals will go up.

In my opinion, everyone champions the poor worker when it costs them nothing to do so. How many of you will be so vocal on their rights when you are finally paying a fair price for the food & service you have demanded be kept as low as possible until now?

Anonymous said...

Yes the high end to middle places will suffer first. The deep fried brigade will thrive.

Anonomouse said...

I don't think anyone said that higher wages will attract higher quality staff. I know I said that it might keep skilled staff in the industry. I also said it might attract staff to the industry.

I get the feeling you are either a restaurant (or former) owner or management. In my opinion, there ARE enough places that are trying to pull a swifty on their staff that makes workers question their methods. I've known places to hide their tips in a draw and use it to pay for managements mistakes or to take themselves out to dinner. I've known places that won't pay their staff weeks on end, so the owner can go on a holiday. I've known places that take produce from coolrooms or the cellar, blame it on staff, and then charge them for it. And I mean places (plural) i.e the same thing has happened in a number of places I have either worked at or heard from a friend.

Yes, no one is saying that you have to work their. And by all rights you don't. The problem is though, if they are an establishment with a reasonable reputation, your name WILL be dragged through the mud. It happens everywhere, from small town Hobart to Paris and New York. There are a lot of little bitches in this industry.

Prices will go up - it's inevitable. But guests will eventually accept the cost though. Restaurants are sure to complain about it - but it's the law now and they are going to have to find other ways to make money. Whether that is increasing prices or improving efficiency, it's going to have to be done.

Finally, workers are your most important asset. We can leave and go somewhere else - there are plenty of other jobs and other career paths we can follow. Usually better paying with better working conditions. Who is going to serve your guests or cook their food? Why not treat us well, pay us a wage that is in line with an equivalent employee in another industry (after scaling) and keep us happy and wanting to work for you? People don't usually want to go work for a shit boss - and this industry is a pretty small world. Once we hear, it's either less than skilled workers or complete nutbags that come work for you. That's an unhappy working environment....

Anonymous said...

Why assume because I have a differing opinion to yours that I am labelled former management, owner etc?
The trouble with this forum is that people like you immediately think that because I & others might raise some points that might be varied, that we are immediately tarred & fethered.
I completely bankrupt owners out there-some should not be in business quite frankly. This does not mean that all owners, management etc should be treated with suspicion. Mr Grumpys point about Rita spending more time with management rather than the workers highlights this unhelpful attitude.
I too have witnessed first hand some outrageous & perhaps criminal behaviour from restaurant owners. But are they the norm-I dont think so.
Finally I am not suggesting that staff should just grin & bear it. Nor am I responsible for the awful conditions that some unforunate workers find themselves in. I am not accountable for this great malaise that you are directing towrd me. You dont know me at all.

Its probably more constructive to stop bleating about the poor workers & come up with a decent plan to make pay & conditions fairer for all & that includes the owners who have in many cases put it all on the line to create the jobs in the first place, which is I suspect, an unpalatable fact for you to swallow.

ut si said...

OMFG Rita, some of these comments are so tedious to read. I follow blogs related to the retail, education and health and fitness industries...all of which I have been involved in professionally and guess what...same old. It's capitalism at its finest.

Anonomouse said...

Sorry, I didn't meant for it to be offensive. It was just the way I read it. I'm glad you have a different opinion to mine. The world would be a pretty boring place if we all had the same opinion. You seem to be taking this fairly personally so I am going to go easy..

People like you? That's a bit rough. You also don't know me. Directing the comments at you? Nope. I commented on your post as you commented on mine. Right to rebuttal I think it's called. I was questioning you whether you were former management? Not labelling you. I'd like an opinion from a management perspective and the way I read your comments and I got the feeling you were in a position of authority. You may actually be management - you haven't denied it outright yet.

I am not sure what you mean by you completely bankrupt owners? Could you expand? Of course all owners should be treated with suspicion. There have been too many incidents in the past at any number of restaurants, cafes and other dining establishments to not treat them with suspicion. Incredibly stupid not to. It's our own welfare we are talking about.

What plan would you like to see? You don't seem to like that a pay rise occurred so what would you like to see? Conditions do need to improve but that's a culture thing. I've seen too many chef's been burnt on purpose with palette knives, had pans thrown at them, had their days off cancelled because they overcooked a scallop or the apprentice is drug f**ked etc etc to really think any piece of paper is going to work. A court case will though. It will come eventually. Better hours can be worked on and bosses can be sacked.

Unpalatable fact? Really? I never questioned the fact that owners have put a lot on the line to have a successful business. I'm simply pointing out that a business needs to be run like a business by someone with the necessary skills and not like some play toy which happens so often. How often have the owners friends and family been given a free meal, losing potential revenue for the restaurant thereby putting our own jobs and livelihood at risk?

I'm not sure that you have actually worked in a kitchen or dining room come to think of it. Most chef's I know complain about the conditions they work under. Virtually all dining room staff I know do the same. This is hundreds of people I am talking about from places all around the world. Of all age groups and backgrounds.

Which comments are you talking about Ut Si?

Rita said...

OMFG is right Colette! A person writes about the possibility of prices rising in their fave cafe or restaurant (and the possible reasons behind it), and what happens next? The above variety of opinions!
I see both points of view, and heartedly endorse both, having been myself on both sides of the fence. I have been sacked for (allegedly) stealing the contents of the till following an extremely lucrative wedding reception (with open bar). I have also run a cafe (admittedly not very well, but humanely, and at least I tried).

I have written here on this blog about my long term desire to see people come into hospitality with a view to it being their ongoing future career, rather than it being a means to an end, thus resulting in varying degrees of commitment to service excellence.

I see that as the only solution to the wage issue, both from the perspective of the employer/owner and employee.

I know of (and can name) people working in the industry who resent being paid the same amount as others who don't give the proverbial 'fat rats' about the way they do their job.

There are many aspects to this discussion, and basically my opinion is that we are all wanting the same outcome - that all should get paid a fair and reasonable amount of pay for the job they/we do.

My post was to alert all to the fact that in order for wages to be covered in this area, there may well have to be changes made to the way things have previously operated, and to our thought patterns.

If you found words expressing a judgement about either hospitality workers or owners - you are adding your particular bias to that post, as there was no judgement made there at all.

Yes Sir G - I DO associate with business owners. I also spend just as much time (in fact MORE time) with workers. I am a reasonable human being with an open mind - that's one of the qualifications I gave myself as to why I started this blog in the first place.

ut si said...

I think that all of us could benefit from learning how to analyze & create an interesting argument...or at least how to keep it brief!

lemon curd said...

I switched off after about the 3rd Anon posting - Not being able to differentiate between the anon's made it start to read as a thrilling argument an eccentric may have with themselves :)

Agree with ut si - same old, same old - problem has been wellll documented and certainly isn't unique to this industry, state or country.

sir grumpy said...

By the way, anonymous who said I have a barely concealed contempt for restaurant and cafe owners...nonsense.
I never conceal my contempt where it it merited. I try NOT to generalise. there are good, bad and indifferent in all walks of life. I have a genuine admiration for those owners who put it All on the line.
But Unless you know them all you can't do the arithmetic on the ratio of good to bad.
As soon as I raise my hand in defence of better wages for staff the old vitriole from the far Right emerges.
Rita even accuses me of aggro. Look, Rita, here are my points. Attracting career people to the industry will be a benefit.
Already one person says you'll still get the same old crap but be paying more. Cynical or what?
I expect to pay more if that's what it takes to pay a living wage to waiters and waitresses.
This has always been my view...track back to check if you like.
Remember, restaurant owners, we can feed ourselves quite well without you. Be thankful for us when we do rock up.
And look after your staff. I'm sure you do get staff who fall short of your (fair) expectations and that is a trial. So cultivate the good.
We noshers can tell a happy ship very soon after we cross the threshold.
By the way Try getting an eatery around Christmas, New Year's Day and tell me I'm out of touch with what's happening,
I was working and couldn't even get a takeaway asian meal in North Hobart. Did get a souvlaki! Had tried phoning but gave up. Now that doesn't piss me off, people need holidays, but don't tell me I'm out of touch.

Anonymous said...


steve said...

Rita you are getting quite crafty of late being able to illicit such passionate responses from your readers!
I have read all of these comments with great enthusiasm but haven't commented myself until now when I just read Sir G's last.
I am just concurring with Sir G that he has always been very vocal & consistant in his opinion that he would be prepared to pay more if it meant that staff were paid appropriately. I wish there were many more sharing his view.
I'd shout you a pint of Theakstons OP if I knew who the bloody hell you are!

sir grumpy said...

I'll be in tomorrow, Steve...any discounts?
But, seriously, I think its one way of salvation for our restaurants.
Many european and Asian places in their home countries have the extended family running places and this means the profits stay within the loop.
Often little grocers, wineries and farms are run the same way.

Not everyone has that option but at least putting a dollar or so on a dish to ensure the staff are being looked after and the owner can face another week would be a start.
Then the whole restaurant might get back that feeling of hope.

The people involved might also rekindle the original pleasure spark and sense of achievement from the optimistic opening times.
We're all in it together.

ut si said...

This is great...just dealt with a phone call from a (former?!) customer who thought the milkshake she had on Saturday was too expensive...so have offered to take a pay cut.

Anonymous said...

How much was it?

hmmmm.... said...

That's a great attitude to have...(rolls eyes)

ut si said...

7 bucks and my offer was accepted.

sir grumpy said...

I would pay $8 if it meant keeping your place going happily under the new fair pay stuff, Ut Si.
In fact I would pay it even if the new stuff wasn't coming in, because that's just the kind of person I am.
As long as you have banana or raspberry.
Oh, okay then $8.50 but it better be thickish but not too thick, you know there's a sort of perfect inbetween texture, I'm sure the Japanese have a word for it. But I do go on.

ut si said...

I have the best staff Sir G...one of them rang late last night & asked if her tips this week could go to the Haiti appeal. Re shakes, we can't do banana but raspberry a possibility as soon as our raspberries come on...chef makes his own syrups. Tonnes of strawberries at the moment...would that do?

Rita said...

Reminds me of an evening at my cafe at this time of year when we too were making our own strawberry syrup with the prolific crop of beautiful strawberries. A very high-and-mighty, bejewelled Sandy Bay mother ordered a strawberry milkshake for her daughter, then called waitress Rachael to the table to complain that it tasted 'funny'. Rachael regarded her witheringly then responded with "Probably because it's made out of real strawberries"!

ut si said...

LOL! I love it (not) when people tell us how to make coffee too! What are you doing up so early woman?!

Rita said...

Around 4.15 every morning, my Mercury delivery man hurls my daily copy of the paper in the general direction of my front door from his moving car. It either hits my door with an earth-shattering thud, jerking me from deep sleep to instant alarm, or hits the window, with equally earth-shattering thud, sounding like one of the kids arriving home in the wee small hours, pissed and having forgotten their key, and banging loudly on my bedroom window to please let them in!
You'd think I would be acclimatised to it by now, but no. Sometimes I actually preempt it by mere minutes, so Pavlov's dog is my body!

sir grumpy said...

I have a thing about strawberry milk shakes, Ut Si and you've hit the berry of the head.
Those fake (artificial flavour) strawberry shakes of my youth gave me the shits.
Didn't really taste of strawberry at all, same as all sorts of lollies and things purporting to be ``strawberry''.
But your own strawberries, now you are talking. By the way the fake flavour thing applies to banana, raspberry etc etc.
When are you opening at Kingston!!!

Anonymous said...

Seven bucks?!?! That's a lot for a milkshake. Strawberries aren't expensive and are in season, making a syrup is cheap too. Even if it isn't strawberry, that is pretty pricey. Chocolate? Unless your using Valrhona chocolate... Coffee? Expensive for that too.

Anonymous said...

Way 2 xpensive! Beta b good or id feel ripped.

sir grumpy said...

Egads, I think we are back to square one, Rita, Ut Si!

ut si said...

Well, I dunno 'non 6.16 & 7.23 why we charge so much...just pulled the figure out of me 'ead really!

overpriced? said...

It would seem that way...

Contented Chef said...

Bak on the wage thing, some hopitality workers do work this game because they genuinely love it. I get paid well enough (salary), do more than 60 hours any week and work in hot, cramped conditions with very few weekends or public holidays off. I have a family but they accept that I enjoy my job and support me. I also work for a good bunch of people who know how to treat their staff with dignity and respect. This is the most important thing to me. Just the simple phrase 'thanks' said with sincerity can do so much. I have left other employers with better pay but far worse conditions. This industry does have a lot of bully types of just plain low life deviots but there are some good places to work.