An underpaying, exploitative restuarant boss in London was forced to pay a foreign kitchen porter his owed wages and also holiday pay when a picket arrived outside his restaurant, backed up by threats of legal action.
Cesare Copeta, an Italian national working seasonally in London, was employed by The Food Room, owners of The French Table restaurant in Surrey and the Tom Ilic restaurant in Battersea, which has been spotted listed in Time Out's Top 50 London restaurants.
He was employed as a kitchen porter at the Tom Ilic restaurant and had applied for the job through an advertisement in the Department of Work and Pension's Jobcentre Plus database.
He worked 50 hours over a 2 week period, but was then paid only £75. Having been paid only £1.50 per hour, he walked out of the job in disgust.
The South London local of the Solidarity Federation, of whom Mr Copeta was a member during his time in England, wrote to the boss setting out our member's legal entitlement to the National Minimum Wage, payment for wrongful dismissal and accrued holiday pay. A picket was also organised outside the restaurant at 6:30pm on Thursday 7th February. At the start of the picket, the employer agreed to pay the member his wages at a little over the rate set at the National Minimum Wage and has also paid the member's accrued holiday pay.
The South London local secretary, Mike Ward, said "The catering industry is riddled with long hours, low pay and shady practices. This is a far cry from the glamorous world of celebrity chefs. We are determined to help workers do something about the conditions they face."