Mugg & Bean to be inspected for labour practices

Labour inspections will be conducted at all Mugg & Bean outlets, according to the Bargaining Council for the Restaurant, Catering and Allied Trades.

This follows The Citizen’s report on the plight of waitrons at various franchises in Johannesburg.

Maggie Pooe, the council’s general secretary, said the inspections were to ensure compliance with the council’s collective agreement rules.

Labour federation Cosatu has demanded answers from the body, following the report, and the two bodies are understood to be in continuous engagement on the matter.

The federation was outraged by allegations that waitrons were made to pay a breakage fee among other deductions, despite not earning an actual salary.

According to the council, a deduction is only permitted with the written consent of the employee.

More waitrons have since complained to The Citizen, suggesting that even more Mugg & Bean outlets are breaking labour regulations. They are alleging they do not earn a minimum wage.

According to the council, employees can be remunerated on commission, but such a remuneration cannot be less than the minimum wage rate prescribed by the council. As of July last year, this amounted to R20.50 an hour.

Last week, the franchisers effectively denied responsibility for the practices of their franchisees, saying all Mugg & Bean outlets were obliged to comply with the law.

One waitron’s account of working conditions at a Mugg & Bean near Midrand painted a bleak picture of what waitrons have endured there over the past year.

“For starters, on Sundays we have to arrive at 6.15am to scrub the restaurant, for free.

“We only start trading at 7am. We also pay breakage and the runner as well.”

The waitron, whose identity is known to The Citizen but is being kept confidential as the person fears a backlash, said staff had to pay a R10 breakage free every day they work.

“Saturday and Sunday, we also have to contribute R15 each day to pay a runner. We get paid 3% commission only. We don’t get Sundays or public holiday benefits. Our average monthly salary is between R1,100 and R1,500. If you are fortunate enough, you get up to R1,800.”

The restaurant apparently makes roughly R400,000 to R500,000 monthly and waiters’ sales went up to about R60,000.

Waitrons in this establishment, according to the source, did not have a specific payday.

“We only receive our salaries on or after the fifth of every month. If you ask about the late payment, you get told that you’re making tips every day, stop complaining.”

Complaints relayed to The Citizen suggest that the problem went further than just Mugg & Bean. One former employee of a well-known chain restaurant in Boksburg said their experience was nothing short of slave labour.

“No labour laws are being practised there. And the worst part is that foreigners without papers are being used. If you report these guys to the labour department nothing happens,” he said.

While the prescribed minimum wage for the restaurant and catering industry is R20.50 per hour, the average income for a waitron in South Africa is R15 per hour, according to PayScale.

Last week, The Citizen reported on Mugg & Bean waitrons who did not receive salaries, but were paid a 3% commission, leaving the waitron to carry the risk of not earning a minimum wage every month.


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