‘George isn’t a thief’: Calombaris’ business partner speaks out about unpaid wages scandal
George Calombaris’ business partner has spoken out about the underpayment scandal surrounding the celebrity chef and his restaurants.
Radek Sali, Chairman of Made Establishment, had just brought into the business when almost $8 million dollars worth of underpaid wages were discovered.
“George felt everything was right in the business, and to come up with this information after our usual processes reviewing things, it was very, very shocking,” he told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell.
Mr Sali said the celebrity chef’s business simply outgrew his capabilities.
“He’s a chef! He started this journey as a 26-year-old on the tools in the kitchen, doing what he loves most,” he said.
“This thing just grew rapidly beyond his powers of capability.”
Mr Sali said the hospitality award is complicated and the underpayment was a genuine mistake.
“For an executive summary to be 40 pages shows that this is a very difficult system for people to get their head around,” he said.
“George accepts that he’s a public figure and really, genuinely, does want to be a force for change.”
Mr Sali said the business immediately self-reported the matter when it was discovered, and all underpaid employees have been paid the wages owed to them.
The company now has concerns that the public scandal will affect business at its 18 restaurants and take away outlets.
“What I worry about now is our future and making sure that the 600 plus people that work for us can continue to thrive in a wonderful culture, and also the suppliers,” he said.
“We don’t want to see them put under undue pressure as a result of some misstatements in the market.”
Mr Sali said he’s confident Mr Calombaris can overcome the scandal.
“George isn’t a thief,” he said.
“There was no intent in what he did.
“We didn’t hide, we disclosed to Fair Work immediately after we found the issues.
“He didn’t mean any of this, and he’s a very good person at heart.”
Press PLAY below for the full interview.