It’s not been a good week for Michel Roux Jr after the Guardian revealed that some chefs at his Mayfair restaurant, Le Gavroche, are paid less than the legal minimum. Staff at McDonald’s earn more than chefs in the Michelin-starred restaurant, the Sun pointed out.
Perhaps more concerning was the warning that the underpayment of employees could well be endemic in the restaurant sector. “I would be very surprised if this practice is not more widespread,” Peter Harden, who publishes the Harden’s restaurant guide, told the Guardian.
Let’s not forget this is a sector that is just 3.6% unionised. Indeed, a short survey of 85 chefs by Unite showed that half started early and finished late for no extra pay. Almost 60% worked more than 48 hours per week.
In August, the trade union also claimed that London is one of the most “unethical” tourist destinations in the world. The report noted that, despite many being signatories to various ethical social responsibility agreements, big name hotel chains, “are only paying lip service to workers’ basic human and trade union rights”.
December’s Footprint magazine will include analysis of how the so-called gig economy is affecting the foodservice sector and its workforce.