31 July 2019

The owners of a failed restaurant have argued award wages were to blame — rather than their vomitous novelty food concept, racist marketing, failure to plan for the seasonal business cycle, or their extravagant million dollar renovation. JR Hennessy identifies their PR campaign — and especially the argument that hospitality staff are “drastically overpaid for the value they produce for a business” — as a “canar[y] in the coalmine for a recession; subjecting us to the psychodrama of small business owners as they contend with the reality that their prospective customers don’t have much walking around money at the moment”, and “a pushback against the recent focus on systemic underpayment of wages in the industry”: “At the end of the day, it’s very easy to poke fun at the Sash founders for identifying ‘having to pay staff’ as the central failure of their three-month sushi pizza fever dream. But in their whinge we can see the germ of an argument coalescing among restauranteurs the nation over against a punitive response to wage theft. We shouldn’t let them make it.”