Mantle Group Hospitality (MGH) is owned by millionaire pub baron Godfrey Mantle and runs iconic Queensland venues including the Pig ‘n’ Whistle and Jimmy’s on the Mall in Brisbane’s lucrative Queen Street Mall.
MGH has been repeatedly accused of wage theft often by using Howard-era workplace contracts – so-called zombie agreements – which include pay and conditions significantly less than the modern Award.
Under the Zombie agreement, the two young workers are underpaid weekend and public holiday penalty rates, allowances, including working late and working early, superannuation and other entitlements.
Now two MGH workers – United Workers Union members Alex Knott and Henry Thom – have applied to the Fair Work Commission to have the zombie agreement overturned. If successful, approximately 300 MGH workers are expected to benefit through higher pay and better conditions.
Mr Knott, 20, was paid entry level wages, despite working in the hospitality industry for over five years. It is estimated Mr Knott’s deliberate miss-classification left him out of pocket about $7,000 over the year he worked part-time for the company.
“There is a lot of miss-classification of roles to keep wages low. My classification meant that I was to have constant supervision and no contact with customers, but I was working as front of house staff in a role that should have attracted $8 an hour more,” Mr Knott said.
“Many Mantle employees know they are being ripped off, but the company uses these hard-tounderstand agreements to baffle workers and basically just say ‘take it or leave it’. I can tell you the customers aren’t saving any money, the profits just go straight to the owners.”
Martin de Rooy of the Young Workers Hub said like a lot of hospitality employers, Mantle Group has taken advantage of its zombie agreements at the expense of young workers’ pay and conditions.
“These young workers are joining their Union and saying enough is enough – times up for this unfair, 22-year-old agreement,’’ Mr de Rooy said.
“This FWC application is significant given the treatment of hospitality workers throughout the pandemic. If you think you are covered by a zombie agreement the best thing to do is contact the Young Workers Hub or your Union.”
Maurice Blackburn Principal Giri Sivaraman, who is representing the pair, said the FWC would be asked to end the zombie agreements and allow MGH employees to go on to the award.
“It’s clearly not in the public interest to allow these agreements to continue. Awards are the safety nets for employees and collective agreements are meant to provide better conditions, yet here we have the opposite occurring,” Mr Sivaraman said.
“The zombie agreement undermines the award, short changers workers, and gives Mantle group an unfair competitive advantage. It’s time to end this agreement.”
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