Hospo Voice

How Hospo Voice Members Are Winning Big and Changing the Industry

June 18, 2021

Hospo Voice members are fighting back and winning. We’re winning in our workplaces, winning back stolen wages, and pressuring our governments to make laws to help workers.

Here are just a few examples…


You’ve probably seen our members speaking out against wage theft at some of Australia’s best-known venues. By coming together as a union we’ve been able to cut some of the biggest wage thieves in the industry down to size. From George Calombaris to Heston Blumenthal and Neil Perry’s Rockpool, no name is too big for us to take on when we stand together!

We’ve hit the streets and made a big noise in the media and online – enough to make dodgy bosses shake in their boots. And of course we’ve helped helped members win back millions of dollars in stolen wages. 

We awarded Neil Perry’s Rockpool the title of ‘Worst Boss 2020″ for stealing up to $10M in wages from workers.

IMPROVING protections for workers

In 2017 we embarked on a big goal: to make wage theft a crime. Each year wage theft is affecting 437,000 workers and costing them approximately $1.22 billion in wages and $1.12 billion in unpaid superannuation. We set out to put the issue of wage theft on the map, and end the reign of dodgy bosses.

Members spoke out online by reviewing venues that underpaid them on FairPlate. We gathered in the streets, unified by the call to ‘take wage theft off the menu’. We lobbied the government to make changes to the system that is supposed to protect us. And finally, armed with the knowledge of our rights, we stood up to our bosses to demand what we’re owed. Hospo workers have made it clear: we will no longer sit back and allow our wages to be stolen!

Now wage theft is a crime in both Queensland and Victoria, a historic change for all workers. From now on, dodgy employers will face significantly larger penalties (including jail time!) and it’ll be easier for workers to recover the money they’re owed.

These new laws will give the power back to workers and allow us to take action. We’ve made it happen in Victoria and Queensland, now we’re fighting to make wage theft a crime from coast to coast!

Hospo Voice members celebrate VIC wage theft laws passing.


Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel is known as one of Sydney’s most picturesque harbourside hotels. But for Giannina, it was the worst place she ever worked.

Giannina and her colleagues would often work 60 to 80 hours a week, and many of those hours were unpaid. As a salaried chef she was expected to work ‘reasonable overtime’, but the boss refused to provide guidelines on this, despite workers asking repeatedly. Their shifts would stretch 12-13 hours, but management would change their timesheets so it looked like they worked less.

We calculated that Watsons Bay Hotel had stolen about $200,000 from Giannina, and about half a million dollars in total from 5 workers.

As a migrant worker, sponsored by her employer, Giannina was in an even more vulnerable position. Management exploited their staff’s reliance on sponsorship, and and counted on them being too scared to speak out.

Giannina and her colleagues tried contacting management and HR directly, but they were either ignored or given unclear responses. So they took matters into their own hands, writing damning reviews of Watsons Bay on FairPlate and speaking out in the media.

As a result Giannina won back $40,000 in stolen wages, and her fellow union members got theirs too!

“It felt really great that everybody who worked there finally got what they were due. Without the union, we would not have a strong enough case for the company to actually take action and resolve the problem.

Giannina speaking out on A Current Affair

empowering members with digital tools

Through our Mobilise app we are helping members to understand and enforce their rights at work. Members like Josh,* who suspected things weren’t right and ended up winning back over $20k in stolen wages!

Josh was being paid a flat rate at his work. But when he compared his payslip against the rates in the PayChecker tool, it was clear he was being ripped off.  So he crunched the numbers – using the correct award rates to work out how much he was losing each shift.

To make sure he was on the right track, Josh chatted with one of our Mobilise experts who confirmed that he was covered under the award and directed him to our library of fact sheets for additional info.

Evidence in hand, Josh put the calculations and his underpayment estimate in a letter of demand using our template letter. This letter is all written up, so all he needed to do was plug in his own details. Then he sent off the letter to his boss and waited for a response. 

They sent Josh a deed of settlement, which our Mobilise expert checked over, then Josh received a cool $20k+ of unpaid wages in his bank account.

*not his real name

What this all adds up to is the power to change this industry. Union power. 

And our voice gets even louder when more of us speak up and take action. 

Are you ready to win?


Help us fight for change in hospo by joining your union and getting involved.

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