Restaurant and Catering ’s West Australia branch had rejected claims made by the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union (LHMU) that their plan to recruit overseas staff, which is expected to be introduced nationally, was an attempt to import cheap labour.
The Restaurant and Catering (RCA) WA branch established a joint venture with recruitment company IHP International to interview candidates from the Philippines, Burma, Singapore, India and Britain.
Restaurant and Catering WA Executive Director, Terry Bright said that the move was not an attempt to import staff on cheap wages. Anyone who is employed locally from overseas has to be approved by the Immigration Department, which also sets their wages. Anyone hired from overseas is subject to Australian wages and conditions, which is not new. The hospitality industry has been appointing staff from overseas for years.
Bright stated that the move by the Association was prompted by the on-going skills shortage across the industry. The association is initially aiming to import around 500 staff by the end of the year. There were more than 900 job vacancies in the industry in WA alone, according to the Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources.
Bright estimated that there was a need for about 350 Chefs in WA alone and pointed out that other states were experiencing similar problems. He said that the agreement with IHP included a deal to expand the strategy to other states. He envisaged that it will spread across Australia, and expected to happen shortly. He sees no reason why it cannot be implemented around the country.
IHL already have between 80 and 100 Philippino staff on their books who have been interviewed. Restaurant and Catering will be sending their own staff to conduct secondary interviews.