Protesters target Rockpool venues

31 October, 2019 by
Hospitality Magazine

Protesters from the Hospo Voice union have gathered outside Rockpool Dining Group-owned restaurants in Sydney and Melbourne, chanting the slogan “pay up sharks”.

Groups of people in Melbourne marched to Sake restaurant on Tuesday before gathering outside Rosetta and Rockpool in Southbank holding ‘take wage theft off the menu’ banners, with some protesters even dressed as sharks.

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Labor senator Jess Walsh attended the Melbourne rally and said the industry is in the midst of  “a wage theft epidemic”.

In Sydney, protesters stood outside Rockpool Bar & Grill on Wednesday shouting “what’s outrageous? Stolen wages” in front of police.

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The protests come off the back of recent allegations Rockpool Dining Group has underpaid workers $10 million.

Maurice Blackburn Lawyers and Hospo Voice are behind the accusations and claim staff time sheets were altered to 38 hours a week and hourly records were destroyed.

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However, hospitality workers have taken to social media to rebut the Hospo Voice-created hashtag #rottenrockpool with their own – #thankyourockpool

Lume executive chef John Rivera spent four years at the group and said he was always paid fairly and on time.

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I’ve been around the @rockpooldininggroup. I spent lot of my formative years there. 4 years in total, in fact. I worked both in Melbourne at Rockpool Bar & Grill and the flagship in Sydney, Rockpool est ‘89 (RIP). I started polishing glasses, then became a food runner, then a commis waiter, then a section waiter, then a pastry cook, then a savoury cook. I’ve done almost everything there, and was always treated with respect and consideration. Rockpool consistently gave myself and the others around me opportunities to grow and become better professionals and people. On top of the fair and above award pay I was receiving, I had a very good work/life balance, great mentoring from some of Australia’s most skilled chefs and opportunities to get training from industry leaders. #rottenRockpool is a load of shit. Before you buy into this media witch hunt, do some research and stop dragging @chefneilperry name through the mud. #thankyouRockpool for helping me become the chef I am today, and thank you @robbiebell8 for giving us the confidence to tell our side of the story.

A post shared by John Rivera (@j_hnrivera) on

Current Rockpool Bar & Grill Sydney head chef Corey Costelloe said “Neil Perry has treated me with the utmost respect and given me opportunities I could only dream of”.

Neil Perry, who sold Rockpool to private equity firm Quadrant Private Equity in 2016, has yet to comment on the accusations but has reposted messages of support from chefs and members of the hospitality community on his Instagram account.

Image credit: Hospo Voice