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October 13, 2022

Unions back hospo harassment inquiry

SA Unions has joined Equal Opportunity Commissioner, Jodeen Carney in calling for a review into workplace culture in the hospitality industry.

  • Words: Johnny von Einem
  • Main image: Louis Hansel

“It’s time for the hospitality industry to open their eyes to the obvious exploitation and harassment issues, and step up to fix this once and for all,” SA Unions secretary Dale Beasley said in a statement.

CityMag reported yesterday that Equal Opportunity Commissioner Jodeen Carney wanted to hold a review after her office received “a number of approaches… about bullying, intimidation, harassment and discriminatory conduct in several industries, most notably the hospitality sector” over the last six months.

Carney met with a range of hospitality industry organisations – the Australian Hoteliers Association (AHA), Clubs SA, SA Unions, Restaurant & Catering Industry Association, SA Wine Industry Association and Hostplus – in June to discuss their willingness to fund a review, and she told CityMag the groups indicated they were “not prepared to contribute to the funding of a review”.

Beasley, a hospitality veteran who “worked in kitchens for over a decade”, said hospitality owners shouldn’t have to be reminded of their “basic obligations to provide a safe workplace for their staff, and they shouldn’t be allowed to drag their heels on identifying workplace hazards”.

“If the Hospitality industry is allowed to keep their heads in the sand, we’ll never see any action, and hospitality workers will continue to face exploitation, sexual harassment and assault at work,” he said.

Equal Opportunity Commissioner Jodeen Carney



In August, three hospitality workers spoke with CityMag about their experience of sexual assault and harassment in the industry.
Read that story here.

An SA Unions spokesperson told CityMag a review into the hospitality industry was necessary and “the sort of thing that employers should have engaged in ages ago”.

“They need to be doing whatever they can to be identifying risk, and the calls for an inquiry are only popping up because venue owners and employers have ignored it for years,” they said.

“Changing of culture is not something you do overnight, but the way that industry groups are trying to have a bob each way by refusing to investigate the hazard, and then at the same time saying, ‘Oh, but we’ll engage when someone’s ready to go’ is like… a building site [deciding] to not put railings up, [and saying], ‘Well, we weren’t looking for railings, but if you’ve got railings to stop people falling over the edge, we’ll be happy to lean against them’.”

The United Workers Union, which covers hospitality workers, is currently rolling out a “very targeted survey… into all of the venue management sites in Adelaide – the pubs, hotels, clubs, accommodation, hotels,” union co-ordinator Louise Dillon said.

“We’re going everywhere. We’ve got a team of organisers, and also got a team of delegates, and after we get this particular survey out – which has been developed by hospitality workers, they’ve written it, it’s theirs – once they’ve run that out, we want to write a report and have it published, and we want to start talking to government and as many people as we can.”

Dillon said the union regularly received calls from hospitality workers “who have been sexually harassed by their bosses, they’ve been sexually harassed by customers, bullying is endemic. So we have a fair bit of data, but reaching out and giving more workers this chance to voice themselves has been actually really, really good”.

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