United Voice, the hospitality union, is shocked at the revelations of the true extent of wage theft at celebrity chef George Calombaris’s restaurants. Hard-working Australian’s were ripped off nearly $8 million. Far in excess of the original estimation of $2.6 million.

Wage theft is a crime.

Everyone deserves a job they can count on. These workers did not deserve to have their earnings stolen by their wealthy boss.

Jo-anne Schofield, National Secretary of United Voice says, “We are truly shocked at the full extent of wage theft at Made Establishment.

“For the seriousness of this crime, a $200,000 fine is not sufficient.

“If someone deliberately took $1000 out of someone else’s bank account, there would be a high likelihood of a criminal conviction for theft. But when you’re a multimillionaire restaurateur/celebrity chef you can take $7.83 million in wages from your workers and get away with a “contrition payment”.

“And you get to keep your TV show, your huge profile and mansion and keep raking in cash off the back of hardworking chefs, waitstaff and bartenders.

“All the while you’ve also been campaigning to slash the penalty rates for all hospitality workers.

“The name “wage thief” should be attached to George Calombaris’s name in every article, television promo or restaurant review he’s featured in.”

Former Hellenic Republic worker and Hospo Voice* leader Orlaith Belfrage says, “A fine of $200,000 is nowhere near enough - that’s less than three per cent of what he took. George is seen as having a leadership role in this industry, and he has built that reputation off taking wages from his workers. George has never really taken responsibility for this.

“He should be properly punished and this is why criminalising wage theft cannot come soon enough.

“George should pay a serious price for this massive theft of workers’ wages. He should be taken off MasterChef. How many more excuses does George get?

“Because the case has gone on so long, many former staff won’t ever get to recover their money. 

“A three percent fine is not enough. Wage theft has become a business model.

“Workers have requested repeatedly that George Calombaris hand over records so that they can recover their stolen wages and he has not provided them with the documents they need to recover their money.

“This issue has stayed in focus for one reason and one reason alone. Because of the relentless agitation and campaigning by Hospo Voice members about wage theft by George and countless other hospitality employers.”

United Voice also condemns the federal government for allowing the epidemic of wage theft to continue.

Jo-anne Schofield says, “What better example of how our workplace rules are broken than to see wealthy celebrity chefs who are in the public eye brazenly ripping off their staff.

“We’ve witnessed countless reviews and recommendations to tackle this wage theft epidemic but no action from federal government. They have, along with business, persistently looked the other way.

“The fact is that through continued inaction on this issue, the federal government is aiding and abetting the continued shocking exploitation of Australian workers.”

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