I’m the head chef of an iconic, award winning restaurant in Brisbane. And along with many other small hospo businesses we’re on the brink of collapse.
In our precinct there are six restaurants. One is trading at reduced hours. One is closing for the next month and three have already collapsed.
We have seen our average customers drop from 200 people a day, down to about 30. This isn’t enough to cover bills, let alone pay staff. Most of it comes from the owners’ own savings.
The dread is palpable. The worst moment is at the end of night cash-up, when your boss is staring down at a near empty till, head in his hands. You see the panic in the waitress’s voice as she asks about her ongoing shifts, as she finds out she’ll earn less than the cost of her rent.
I am having to tell my kitchen staff that there will be few, if any, shifts available. And the rest of us have to work twice as hard to keep things running. All the while, our pay day is creeping away from its usual day as the owner tries to stretch the money long enough to stay afloat.
A week ago we were in a stable position. Now I go to work fearing that I find the doors are locked or that my pay day will just never arrive.
This is hammering home to me that hospo workers need to rally and support each other.
The Federal Government has pushed for casualisation across the workforce, because it’s in the “best interests of business”. Now we’re seeing that this is a raw deal for workers. And it always was.
I don’t know what my next job will be and I feel sick when I think about all the casual workers out there who will literally be left with nothing.
We need to fight to change this industry. Hospo workers need to make sure we are never put in such a vulnerable position as this, ever again.