Restaurant and Catering Australia held its first roundtable in Sydney on the 27th of April, as a bid to contest and discuss the award changes being proposed under the industrial relations reforms by the Federal Government.
The roundtable featured industry figures such as Matt Moran (Aria restaurant), Brian Trippes (AHL), George Misfud (Compass Group) and Tonic Farak (Wildfire restaurant).
Peter Doyle, president of Restaurant and Catering Australia, said restaurants and cafes are an important part of society and culture and were facing challenges in the existing environment.
“We are concerned about the economy, but we are also concerned about the award modifications the government is proposing,” Doyle said. We are being grouped under the hotel award, but we want a separate award.”
The award updating process that the Federal Government is undertaking is being run by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission and is predicted to be put in place by January 1, 2010.
Doyle claims the government thinks that restaurants are big profit makers, but most restaurants are only making 2% profit. This is seen even more so in NSW, as the restaurant and catering industry has seen a 17% drop in business, 5% more than other states. 2008 saw a large decline in café and restaurant business according to a Westpac report. Growth fell from a peak in first quarter 2007 of 10.4 per cent to a negative 8.4 per cent in 2008 last quarter.
More such roundtable events will be held in Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide in the near future and Doyle said the association had plans to meet with Julia Gillard, minister for workplace relations, in the next few months to discuss the award changes.