George Calombaris (left) has been found guilty of underpaying his staff.
George Calombaris (left) has been found guilty of underpaying his staff.

Wage thieves flogged with a feather

HOW come a celebrity chef and millionaire like George Calombaris or Neil Perry can get away with stealing millions of dollars and only get a slap on the wrist?

Because that's what they've done. Over a long period these two have stolen money from the employees to benefit themselves and their businesses.

If one of those workers had gone into a bank and made off with even a tenth of what these two stole, they would have been looking at the inside of a jail cell for a long time.

But just like bankers, whose inglorious misdeeds were catalogued in minute detail at the royal commission, the punishment for Calombaris has been a flogging with a feather.

It seems the higher you go up the food chain, pardon the pun, the lighter the punishments received.

The celebrity chef has closed his business and paid his workers $7.8 million plus $200,000 in "contrition", but there's no conviction recorded.

Why? There is nothing different in principle between his behaviour and sticking up a servo.

You can be sure these two won't be the last chefs caught dudding their workers. The Fair Work Office has repeatedly noted the hospitality industry has made a habit of preying on its workers, particularly if they're young or from overseas.

And with the cafe culture exploding there are going to be more and more people exploiting the opportunity to make a quick buck even quicker at the expense of their staff.

Instead of slapping these thieves on the wrist, the law needs to impose a few jail terms and heavy fines to let these people know it is actually a crime they're committing.