Waiters suffer pay-cuts as restaurants struggle to cope

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Published on November 5, 2020 by

Restaurants are paying their workers on an hourly basis instead of monthly causing financial setbacks among waiters. 

Kochi: One of the many radical cost-cutting strategies that restaurants have adopted to fight the financial set-back in the face of Covid-19 is switching to pay their workers on an hourly basis instead of monthly. This seems to help restaurants but at the same time is negatively affecting the finances of the staffers working for them.

Janardhan, who waits at a restaurant said, “Initially we had 30 workers working here, now we only have six people working. We struggled a lot for the first four months; in between, we got more workers but again infections increased. Work increased but we only got half the salary.” 

Thousands of restaurant operators have been compelled to change their business models to survive amid the pandemic. Paying wages on an hourly basis enables restaurants to avoid shelling out money when the workers fall under containment zones. 

According to a restaurant owner, Praveen Mohan, “Paying salary is not an easy job because revenues were low, we were completely shut for three to four months and were dependent on online delivery where profitability and margins were completely low.” 

The Kerala Hotel and Restaurant Association of Ernakulam district have mentioned that they are in favour of this new policy and restaurants are helpless as they do not have the money to give. District labour officer, Siyad Mohammed, said that there is a rule stating that the restaurants must pay their workers when they fall under containment zones but the management has challenged this rule in court and the case is still pending. 

An advocate on labour laws, Clifton D Rosario, said “this is not just a legal question but an ethical and moral one. Not only are they blatantly violating laws, but this is also just another method to exploit the workers.” 

He added, “We pay someone on an hourly basis if they work for you on an hourly basis, but if these are your regular employees then you are duty bound to provide them with the regular wages.”

Experts on labour laws also said that the most legal way out of this is for the workers to collectivize and form a union to bring this up with the labour commission.

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