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The Caterer

Getting away with murder?

03 August 2006
Getting away with murder?

Fifty years ago, and subsequently each decade thereafter, the cry has gone up: "Oh, we can't get the staff" - a constant whinge by hoteliers and caterers. So why can't they?

Almost certainly it's because of antisocial hours, poor pay and conditions, which the majority of caterers and hoteliers have not addressed, being content just to whinge, rake the profits in, and treat staff like dirt.

There's a tiny minority of decent, well informed employers, but sadly they are very few and far between. Far more common are the tricks played by unscrupulous operators. One, for example, is not paying staff overtime, but giving time off in lieu and paying the covering member of staff the normal rate. Employers are getting away with murder.

Despite the minimum wage, employers are happy that their responsibilities stop there so they can wangle as much cheap labour as possible.

It would be interesting to survey the conditions experienced by foreign workers in the industry. In the 1950s and 1960s it was Italians, and since then there have been various other foreigners, doubtless paid too little and fed food I wouldn't give to my dog.

Unfair behaviour by employers needs to be publicised.

JH Ryall
Llandrindod Wells, Powys

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