Unpaid staff turn up heat on Calombaris

THE woman behind the union campaign which helped unseat George Calombaris has turned up the heat on the former MasterChef star to ask "where's the money George?"

Former waitress at Calombaris' Hellenic Republic restaurant in Melbourne, Orlaith Belfrage, said in the wake of the MasterChef hosts' exodus, she and others still wanted their money back.

Asked on A Current Affair what she would say to Calombaris, Ms Belfrage said "I'd ask him 'where's my money and my back pay?'

"And also, 'where's the back payment to all these other workers that still haven't heard anything from him or his company?'"

Ms Belfrage has spoken out about her treatment at George Calombaris' restaurant before, telling The Project he owed her between $3000 and $4000 and calling for him to be dropped from the show.

"I personally have money owing to me and there's a group of people I used to work with that I'm in contact with still that haven't been contacted by this second or third wave of media around the Made Establishment wage saga, so I completely believe that there's more back payments to be made," she said last week.

"There are so many business owners and chefs that do the right thing with paying their workers and have good principles, they should be rewarded by being able to be on those shows," she said.

On Tuesday, Calombaris, Gary Mehigan and Matt Preston walked out on the show that made them household names after an 11 season run.

Network Ten said the split was due to a contract dispute and it was reported the three, each on $1 million a year, had each demanded between an alleged $400,000 and $1 million extra.

MasterChef’s three departed hosts George Calombaris, Gary Mehigan and Matt Preston with Tuesday night’s winner Larissa Takchi. Picture: Network Ten.
MasterChef’s three departed hosts George Calombaris, Gary Mehigan and Matt Preston with Tuesday night’s winner Larissa Takchi. Picture: Network Ten.


On Tuesday night, Mehigan denied they had parted ways with the network over money, and news.com.au reported the trio were forming their own production company to pitch a show to Netflix or Amazon.

George Calombaris at the Press Club.
George Calombaris at the Press Club.

The rolling story about MasterChef and George Calombaris came after online digital union Hospo Voice called for his sacking for underpaying workers including Ms Belfrage.

The chef and his Made Establishment company was fined a "contrition payment" of $200,000 by the Fair Work Ombudsman for underpaying 515 workers a total of $7.8 million.

Calombaris apologised for his actions, and in the lead-up to Tuesday evening more than 22,000 people signed a petition calling for him to be sacked from MasterChef.

The MasterChef trio are said to be contemplating selling themselves as a package to Amazon or Netflix.
The MasterChef trio are said to be contemplating selling themselves as a package to Amazon or Netflix.

On Wednesday evening, Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Sally McManus told A Current Affair Network Ten had made the right decision in splitting with Calombaris.

"Look we think it's a really good decision by the network for him to no longer be a judge because why should he be a role model?" Ms McManus said.

"He's someone who's been held up and given that position as a celebrity chef and they're not the type of people we should be looking up to."

candace.sutton@news.com.au

Workers at Calombaris's Melbourne restaurant, like former waitress Orlaith Belfrage (above), Hellenic Republic are still out of pocket.
Workers at Calombaris's Melbourne restaurant, like former waitress Orlaith Belfrage (above), Hellenic Republic are still out of pocket.
Ms Belfrage has been vocal against Calombaris.
Ms Belfrage has been vocal against Calombaris.

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