Since last week, SydSol has been taking action in support of CJ, a worker who was harassed and exploited during her time as a staff member at [a café] in Leichhardt.
CJ began working at [a café in Leichhardt] in early March, and there were problems from the beginning. The boss would continually try to touch her and other women against their will. She was paid only $17 per hour, which is far below the Restaurant Award minimum wage ($22.24 on weekdays and $26.69 on weekends, for casuals).
The pay was cash-in-hand, and the boss would always pay late. No contracts were signed and the boss never asked for their tax file numbers. Some workers were fired on the spot, with no notice, for no reason. When CJ spoke up, she was taken off the shift roster. She decided to quit. She asked the boss to pay her outstanding wages (at $17 per hour): $433.50. He refused, and one of the supervisors even physically assaulted CJ’s friend who was there to support her. Eventually, the boss only paid her $200 and withheld the rest ‘for damages to property’ – a completely fictitious claim.
CJ contacted SydSol and asked for help to get back her stolen wages. CJ is demanding the boss pay her the full $1,108.70 she is owed – which would bring her wages up to the legal award minimum for the hours she worked.
So far, the boss is not paying, and until he does SydSol is organising regular protests to let potential customers know how [this café] treats its staff. The response from passers-by has been extremely positive. The boss is also clearly feeling the pressure, threatening and behaving aggressively towards SydSol members, assaulting a female protester and even throwing large buckets of water at several people.
Exploitative, violent, sexist behaviour by bosses and supervisors is all too common – both in hospitality and elsewhere. But when we stand up together, we can show that we don’t have to put up with it!