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Another view of the guest worker treatment in Canberra Restaurants

johnboy 4 April 2006 14

A number of Canberra businesses, especially Zeffirelli’s have been having a very bad trot in the media lately. A new member of the RiotACT family, cerruti, has chosen to publish a lengthy response as a long term employee of Zeff’s which I think is worth a look.

While the Chamber of Commerce wouldn’t be my own first choice of an independent arbiter I’ve decided the issues raised in the comment are worthy of a story of their own. What are your thoughts on the subject?

Ok. Let me just start off by saying that i started working at Zeffirelli 8 years ago and I have always been treated very well and with respect just as if i was part of the family that owns it. You can go past either the Dickson or Belconnen store tonight, ask any of the staff there how they are treated and whether or not they are being paid properly and i can guarantee you that not one of them will have a complaint. Now as for the Filipino workers, I was working on the day these guys arrived in Canberra, they were all at the restaurant sitting at a table with the boss and his wife. They were all fed steaks, wine, desserts all free of charge, the boss even cracked open champagne to welcome them to Australia. They started work the next day. I would personally pick them up from home and take them to work While they were working they would eat and drink anything they wanted free of charge. All the staff at both restaurants were well aware that these people had travelled a long way into a foreign country and we all welcomed them and treated them well. These guys were provided by the boss with accomodation, beds, furniture, a fridge a washing machine toiletries plates cutlery , basically everything they needed to get started he even gave them each $100 cash for anything else they might need.

Now these guys were all hired under the impression that they were all qualified chefs. Let me tell you that 4 of the 6 that came were very good at what they did. 2 of them however had difficulty even peeling a potato. These guys had absolutely no idea how to cook and used us to get into Australia. From what i understand the boss had every right to send them home and was just about to. They found out they they were gonna get sent packing and decided that they would prefer to stay in Australia rather than be sent back to the conditions that they were living in back in the Phillipines. So they went to the union. Now the unions were in a position that they were just about to be rendered obsolete by these new IR laws so they decided to take the bull by the horns and turn Zeffirelli and all the other restaurants into scapegoats. THEY contacted (the otherwise unknown) Sen Kate Lundy so she could put her 5 cents in and finally make a name for herself. THEY contacted win news and made allegations of racial villification and harassment which is all a load of crap! (half the people that work there both in the kitchen and on the floor are of different ethnic backgrounds)and that one of the filipino’s was refused medical treatment after suffering a burn (When i personally put ice and cream and bandages on the wound and offered to take her to hospital myself!!).

As for being underpaid, the Chamber of commerce conducted an audit and found that 2 of the six filipino workers were in fact underpaid the amount of $4.50 per week due to a technical oversight in the office.
As for you dragcity_cowgirl I think you’ve been watching too much sopranos. I have personally paid over $2500 in parking fines just in Dickson alone and the boss’s sons have had many more parking fines there than i have.

Anyway I hope this opens a few peoples eyes and they realise that not everything portrayed in the news is accurate and that there is always two sides to every story.

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14 Responses to Another view of the guest worker treatment in Canberra Restaurants
alans 5:41 am 30 May 06

I sincerly doubt the matter would now be before court over a $4.50 a week technical infraction.

midnitecalla 8:11 pm 07 Apr 06

hear hear !

Big Al 7:34 am 06 Apr 06

Yeah and if Zeff’s were so proud of their performance and sure of themselves – how come they pulled the plug on the Kingston Restaurant and re-badged it?

The Chamber of Commerce was pushing the barrow for Zeff’s for a while but they went all quite when the Dept of Workplace Relations said the $4.50 an hour oversight was bollocks and these guys were owed $1000s.

As far as the other crap goes – have a think about it. I’ve never worked in a restaurant where meals aren’t free for staff, sure there’s probably some around, but a free feed is the norm rather than the exception so cut the grandiose largesse. Picking the guys up and bringing them to work – makes sense to me – the boss sends some schmuck from the front of house to pick up the people who make the food – that’s purely operational, nothing special about it. The rest of the stuff was probably specified conditions of the visa that Zeff’s were legally bound to meet – accommodation, health care, yadda yadda yadda so again it’s a case of trying to make out something that they were obliged to do was voluntary.

Failing to undertake proper due diligence on the guest-workers so a couple of potential IT professionals, sorry I meant unskilled kitchen staff, sneak through too bad – part of the gamble when you go for staff from abroad rather than investing in training and skills development at home.

vg 1:32 am 06 Apr 06

Sorry Che, a poorly made point by me. I was referring to the fact that tried to help (however misguided) rather than denied them help.

I know who I believe

Maelinar 12:12 am 06 Apr 06

I prefer VG’s comment; it seems the most pertinent…

They lied to get into the country, now are lying to stay

Comment by vg — April 5, 2006 @ 12:21 pm

schmerica 7:48 pm 05 Apr 06

As stupid and lame as this whole thing is. Putting ice on it actually makes it worse (as my understanding is).

che 1:12 pm 05 Apr 06

wasn’t putting them down VG, just pointing something out
I guess the ist aid process has passed me by Mael, it all started with changing the breathe and compression ratios damn them, there was nothing wrong with 15/2 and 5/1 you dunderheads

bonfire 1:10 pm 05 Apr 06

he said

she said

thats why legal processes assess evidence.

Maelinar 12:39 pm 05 Apr 06

Household burns – extract from

Apply immediate first aid, that is, cool the burn with cold water, for at least 20 minutes. Remove all jewellery from the affected area.

Initially use hydrogels (such as Intrasite Gel, Solosite or Solugel). These are specialised water-based gels that provide moisture to the wound.

Non-stick tulle gras dressings may also be used.

For more serious burns, always seek advice from your doctor. After referral to your doctor, the dressing may be changed to an island dressing (see above), a hydrocolloid wound dressing, or an alginate dressing.

Hydrocolloid wound dressings protect the delicate tissue during healing. They are moderately absorbent, binding exudates and preventing skin maceration and breakdown.

Alginate dressings are absorbent dressings that can help to prevent bleeding.

Che, perhaps they ‘laymanised’ gel into cream ?

Apart from putting ice on the wound, they appear to have followed reasonably correctly first aid procedures for burns (assuming of course that they allowed time for cooling).

vg 12:21 pm 05 Apr 06


Someone gave it a shot and tried to help. I’m sure if you were there the assistance would have been far better but it very much shoots in the foot the abject lies told by the supposedly villified. They lied to get into the country, now are lying to stay

kimba 10:13 am 05 Apr 06

Interesting story. It’s a shame Lundy was too lazy and dense to look into the issue more carefully before she slandered the restaurant(s) in the Parliament.

che 9:54 am 05 Apr 06

first aid for burns is to put it under cold running water for 10 minutes (or longer if you can) not ice, not cream, not bandages

Thumper 9:05 am 05 Apr 06


This does balance the equation somewhat.

terubo 8:58 am 05 Apr 06

ANY reputable news organ should consider all sides of the story. Congrats to RA on doing so.
The truth, as ever, is probably somewhere in the middle…

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