Race to the bottom must be avoided in restaurants
Labour Senator Kevin Humphreys has said the lifting of employment restrictions in the restaurant industry shouldn’t be used to create a race to the bottom in employment standards across the sector.
It follows calls this week from the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) to lift restrictions on the hiring of chefs from outside the EU to address a shortage of chefs in the industry.
Senator Humphreys said:
“I am concerned that any sudden changes in the sector could lead to a surplus of chefs to the detriment of overall employment standards and wages for workers in the restaurant industry.
“With the cost of living here so high, any decrease in wages could pose a real problem for those already employed in the sector.
“It is also important to ensure that foreign workers aren’t exploited and that we don’t see a race to the bottom in terms of employment standards right across the sector.
“If there is indeed a shortage of as many as 8,000 chefs, as the RAI has claimed, measures are needed to address the issue, such as increasing the rollout of apprenticeship and trainee schemes, and it would be useful to get an independent assessment of these issues before action is taken.
“The hospitality industry is a central part of our tourism offering, and I would be concerned if we cannot train enough chefs and staff, for what is a huge domestic employer. There must be a sustainable career path for chefs here, with decent salaries, terms and conditions.”