The new front

Matteo PignatelliA new claim in the Fair Work Commission is a union initiative which could wipe out our businesses.

The recent claim by the ACTU to convert our casual employees to part time after six months, expand the minimum engagement hours and pay casuals overtime has sent shock waves through the industry. Neither the restaurateurs/caterers or the casual employees want such a change.

Restaurant & Catering has undertaken research into the view of our casual employees about this change and 74 per cent of them want to remain as casuals. That, of course, raises the question why the unions are pursuing the claim in our industry. The answer is that it benefits them. Although I am not sure why when there is less than one per cent penetration of union membership in our business.

This is going to be another huge fight for us in the Fair Work Commission and it comes at a time when we are spending up big on legal fees on the Penalty Rates case and the overall Restaurant Award case. The Commission has really loaded us up with work for 2016! The upshot is, if we are faced with casual conversion and casual overtime, this would add ten to fifteen percent to the cost of wages. This would more than wipe out any profitability most of our businesses have. That of itself could be the end of restaurants, cafes and caterers operating within the system in Australia. To contribute to the Fighting Fund visit the RCA website.

Matteo Pignatelli

President, Restaurant & Catering

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