While the pandemic has brought its fair share of challenges to each one of us, the food services industry has felt its effects more gravely than most.
Lockdowns have closed premises, social distancing limits covers, revenue has been lost through restrictions on alcohol sales and the stricter hygiene and sanitisation regulations, though important, slows down service noticeably.
Both staff and owners of restaurants, fast-food outlets and even caterers have been challenged for the majority of 2020 as well as the start of 2021.
With South Africa’s lockdown lessening enough to allow continued operations (albeit at lower numbers), owners in the food services industry now face another challenge in the form of a new Bargaining Council agreement.
This new agreement takes the shape of increased staff wages, various levies, payments towards staff funeral benefits and provident funds, as well as monies to assist employees with the laundering of their uniforms; all of which the Bargaining Council for the Fast Food, Restaurant, Catering and Allied Trades expects food services industry owners to comply with before the end of the month.
Expected to add a minimum of 15% to their overheads for the year, these new requirements come at a time when restaurant owners are scrambling just to stay open and, at this stage, it is hard to say whether this new agreement will do more harm than good.
For this reason, restaurants are seeking an interdict, petitioning government for aid, and doing everything it takes to stall these incoming changes.