This week I am

like many, thinking about the state of the hospitality industry in Melbourne – although I think the problem is more widespread. There has been much talk (and unjustified abuse) of George Calombaris and his so-called empire, as if he was solely responsible and solely responsible for paying staff. And as if the errors have not been rectified.

What’s clear is that payment errors are common everywhere, and not only in the restaurant industry – and the larger the enterprise, the more likely mistakes are to be made. The awards are very complicated, and if the payment system is not properly programmed, it is likely that there will be some discrepancies. I assume good will here – on both sides – rather than deliberate error.

I also think there must be real vigilance to ensure that the payment system is correct and up to date. And I also think the industry award needs a shake-up.

No one has talked about cash payments, a common enough practice in much of the hospitality industry. That’s another reason the award needs a shakeup, and we need a bi-partisan approach. We need employers, employer bodies, unions and even representatives who are not in a union to get together to work out what is feasible in the industry. I would like to get back to a fair’s day work for a fair day’s pay.

That used to be a simple principle. But I know that there will be endless arguments about what constitutes a fair day’s work, and what a fair day’s pay might mean.

In the meantime, I urge everyone who can to go out to eat. Don’t order in unless there is a compelling reason. Get out of the tracksuit! Go and sit at a table. Order from a menu, and receive what you order in the condition is it is meant to be. Food delivered is never going to be at its best. And if we all go out, then restaurant staff continue to be employed, profit margins are improved, and the industry is more likely to be sustainable. It’s not sustainable if transactions (booking online and food delivery) are taking bites out of profit margins. No body can stay in business if it is making a loss.

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