The hospitality industry is simply one of many industries that is rampant with abuse and exploitation. The Young Workers Survey of 2021 highlights an issue that many of us already know: working in a bar, a café, or a restaurant can be some of the worst experiences you have in a job.
Talk to a waitress. Talk to a chef. There’s an extremely high chance that these workers will have a dodgy story to tell. Many of these workers will tell you of intensive work during peak hours, staff shortages, or they will tell you about experiences of harassment, which can range from snide comments from customers to ongoing threats and poor treatment from their boss. If you don’t have anyone you can ask, you can check out FairPlate, where many of the over 45 reviews across Canberra will give you a taste of poor workplace experiences in the local cafes.
Exploitative industries combined with decades of tearing down workers protection laws creates an epidemic that devastates the lives of young people. Under these conditions, the exciting prospects of starting your first job can quickly turn into your working class nightmare. There are countless times where I have engaged with young people either on the street or in schools about their experiences at work. Many of them are under the age of 18 and work in hospitality, but they don’t even get paid the minimum wage. Some have no idea what a pay slip is. Many migrant workers and international students are also genuinely terrified of what could happen to them if they speak out.
The young workers survey of 2021, however, is not something to grieve upon. For those who have the time to read it, consider it a call to action. This is one of the few insights the public will get about the vast experience of wage theft and bullying from young workers across the ACT. We cannot sit back and watch conditions get worse. The Federal government no doubt has big plans to continue withering away our rights as the impacts of the pandemic linger.
Had a bad boss? Write a review on Fair Plate: www.fairplate.org.au. Your reviews will help customers know where to avoid – and help other hospo workers steer clear of dodgy bosses!
Join the Young Workers campaign. Join your union. The only way things will change is if we unite and fight back.