PRESS RELEASE: 1 July 2011
The Restaurant and Catering Workers Forum, established by SIPTU and Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI), is organising a lunchtime ‘name and shame action’ today outside Conrad Gallagher’s restaurant, Salon des Saveurs on Aungier St, in support of a worker who is owed wages by the celebrity chef.
Rishi Mohiputlall, from Mauritius, worked in Mr Gallagher’s well known restaurant for over a month in 2010, and has still not been paid. Following numerous attempts to retrieve his wages, Mr Mohiputlall took a case under the Payment of Wages Act in the Labour Relations Commission. His complaint was upheld by the Rights Commissioner who required Mr Gallagher to pay Mr Mohiputlall his wages. Mr Mohiputlall has still not been paid, two years on.
"I have tried every avenue to get my wages from my former employer," says Mr Mohiputlall. “Today I am saying enough is enough, it is wrong to treat a worker, another human being this way. I did not sign up to work for free, and I am disgusted by the way that I have been treated by Conrad. I worked hard for him, all I want is what is owed to me”. Mr Mohiputlall continued, “I also want to take a stand so that other workers are encouraged to come forward and report these types of abuses.”
Supporters will join Mr Mohiputlall outside the restaurant today, to show their solidarity and ask for justice to be done. According to MRCI’s Helen Lowry, “Understandably, Rishi wants to be paid for the work he was employed to do in Salon Des Saveurs. As a member of the Restaurant and Catering Workers Forum he has asked for support to bring his case to public attention in the hope it will help him secure the money owed to him, but also to highlight such practices in the restaurant industry,”
Ms Lowry continued, “Restaurant industry representatives are out there trying to undermine workers’ terms and conditions, when their time would be better spent calling for minimum decent standards for those who cook and serve the food. Exploitation in the restaurant industry is a real problem, as highlighted by NERA and ourselves (See Note below). This is the real issue that needs urgent attention.”
According to Pat Ward of SIPTU, "this type of non-compliance is shameful, particularly at a time when the restaurant industry is driving an attack on minimum wages and basic protections for workers, while lower-wage workers are struggling to survive. Rishi’s experience shows that, now more than ever, we must ensure protections remain in place for those who need them most." He went on to caution, “the Restaurant Association of Ireland, who has led recent attacks on workers’ wages and conditions, should spend more of its time trying to get restaurants to comply with existing labour law rather than cut workers’ wages”.
The Restaurant and Catering Workers Forum believes that a successful industry is possible while providing fair and decent conditions for workers. They will be asking fellow chefs, workers and restaurant owners to join them at lunchtime today to support their fellow worker in his fight for justice and their call for fair and decent wages and conditions for restaurant workers.
Note for Editors:
- Background to the Restaurant and Catering Workers' Forum
The Restaurant and Catering Workers Forum was set up earlier this year by the Hotel Catering Arts Leisure and Entertainment branch of SIPTU, and the Restaurant Workers Action Group of the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland. The Forum is committed to working together to protect working conditions and rates of pay for all restaurant and catering workers. We are fighting back against the consistent and aggressive attack on workers' wages by industry bodies such as the Restaurant Association of Ireland, and to ensure workers voices are heard
- There is a serious issue regarding non-compliance with employment law within the restaurant sector.
- NERA found breaches of employment law in 73% of catering businesses in 2008. Compliance rates remained at a problematic low of 21% in 2009, amongst the lowest in any sector.
- MRCI’s 2008 research based on the results of 115 one-hour surveys of migrant workers employed in restaurants; 53% earned less than the minimum hourly wage, 45% worked 9 hrs or more per day, 85% did not receive extra pay for Sunday work, 84% did not receive a contract of employment, 44% did not get rest breaks