Channel 10 is being urged to sack MasterChef judge and wage thief George Calombaris.
The celebrity chef underpaid workers at his restaurants by almost $8 million.
The Fair Work Ombudsman found Calombaris’s Melbourne-based Made Establishment company failed to pay:
- proper award rates;
- penalty rates;
- casual loadings;
- overtime; and
- other allowances.
As a result of the wage theft, Fair Work ordered Calombaris to make a $200,000 ‘contrition payment’ to the Commonwealth’s Consolidated Revenue Fund.
Unions describe the payment as “manifestly inadequate”.
MasterChef urged to sack wage thief George Calombaris
Made Establishment claimed it discovered the underpayments during a review in early 2017, following a change in management.
It reported the wage theft to Fair Work.
An investigation confirmed the company wrongly classified and underpaid workers as a result of failures across its payroll systems.
It has subsequently entered into an Enforceable Undertaking with the workplace regulator.
The agreement requires Calombaris to implement new payroll and compliance systems across his restaurants.
Calombaris previously back-paid $2.6 million to more than 160 employees after media reports revealed he underpaid overtime for up to six years.
‘Truly shocked’ at the extent of the wage theft
Jo-anne Schofield, national secretary from the United Voice union, described the $200,000 contrition payment as “manifestly inadequate”.
“We are truly shocked at the full extent of wage theft at Made Establishment.
“For the seriousness of this crime, a $200,000 fine is not sufficient.
“If someone deliberately took $1,000 out of someone else’s bank account, there would be a high likelihood of a criminal conviction for theft.
“But when you’re a multimillionaire restaurateur / celebrity chef you can take $7.83m in wages from your workers and get away with a ‘contrition payment’.
“And you get to keep your TV show, your huge profile and mansion and keep raking in cash off the back of hardworking chefs, waitstaff and bartenders.”
George Calombaris campaigned to abolish penalty rates for his workers.
Calombaris campaigned for penalty rate cuts
Meanwhile, industrial advocate Miles Heffernan described Calombaris’ conduct as “outrageous”
“This guy was one of the most vocal advocates for slashing Sunday penalty rates, claiming they prevented him from making a profit,” he said.
“But, as it turns out, he wasn’t even paying penalty rates – what a disingenuous dishonest low-life thief.
“If one of his employees stole $8 million from the company safe, they would be sent to jail and also have a criminal conviction.
“But Calombaris gets to walk away with a $200,000 penalty – what an absolute joke!
“It’s time for Network Ten, and also Masterchef, to take a stand against the exploitation of workers in the hospitality industry.
“They must sack George Calombaris as a judge.
“He doesn’t deserve to be on television promoting himself in addition to his restaurants – he deserves to be exposed for the rip off merchant that he really is.”
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