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Food fight

THE Restaurant and Catering Industry Association has criticised moves by the WA branch of the Australian Hotels Association to reactivate its restaurant division.

Restaurant and Catering Industry Association executive director Terry Bright says the market is already well served.

Mr Bright says he gives industrial advice to members daily, participates in magistrates hearings and provides award advice and updates.

“This is typical AHA tactics,” he says. “There is nothing they are doing that we are not already doing. We mail out, fax or email our members on the latest wage updates and I receive about 10 calls a day on industrial matters.”

Mr Bright says the association outsources a registered industrial agent when required.

AHA WA executive director Bradley Woods says the AHA is the only employer association respondent to the award and therefore can lobby the government and unions for the restaurant industry.

“We are offering two options of membership. The first will offer straight-forward award and wage rate information and political representation,” Mr Woods says.

“The second level will offer industrial relations advice and information. It will give members specific information and assistance and one-on-one advice.”

The second-tier membership will also manage union negotiations and dispute resolution on behalf of employers, and will give employers representation at the WA Industrial Commission.

“Over the next three years there will be a peak hospitality body for the State,” he says.

Mr Woods says the AHA has represented the restaurant industry in past award negotiations at which the RCIA was not present.

“The AHA played a constructive role during the progress of the new Labour Relations Amendment Bill through the parliament,” he says.

Mr Bright is critical of the AHA’s involvement in the negotiations.

“In February last year a new award went through that the CCI, AHA and the union agreed upon. We were not in negotiations because at that stage we were not a respondent to the award. They stitched up a deal that flowed straight through to the restaurant industry,” he said.

Mr Bright says the RCIA is now registered with the WA Industrial Commission and can negotiate effectively for members.

The RCIA has challenged the February 2001 decision but has been unsuccessful in its attempt to change the structure of the award.

Mr Woods says the RCIA is not a respondent to the award and inquiries made by Gusto could not confirm that the association was a registered industrial organisation or that the association was a respondent or a party to the award.

“We are right in the loop and will make sure that the shenanigans of the CCI and AHA in February 01 won’t happen again,” Mr Bright says.

He was scathing of the AHA’s move into his sector and cited key AHA policy as reasons for why restaurants should not join the group.

“We have had a number of disputes with the AHA over smoking and liquor licensing. They want to restrict liquor licensing and [we think] smoking should be banned in venues where food is being consumed or staff are employed,” Mr Bright says.

Mr Woods concedes the ideological difference but says AHA policies are accepted among the restaurant industry and will benefit their business.

“Our view is that smoking should be allowed in private or alfresco dining and we will fight for restaurants to continue to have that right,” Mr Woods says.

“Indoor smoking in hotels and restaurants is gone.

“As for liquor, there is some difference. Some members want to become taverns and serve alcohol without a meal.

“You will find most restaurants want to have a small bar and serve alcohol with food ... we will maintain that a restaurant licence should be able to do that but they should not be a tavern, and most restaurants would agree with that.”

The AHA will be presenting promotional packs of its service offerings to restaurants and licensed cafes in the coming weeks.

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