Moncton — The North American restaurant industry is known for its long hours, demanding work, low pay and ungrateful customers — not dissimilar to the Mexican sweatshop industry. The main difference between the two is that there is always work to do at a sweatshop and you likely won’t be sent home shortly after arriving for your shift.
A recent investigation into a Moncton Mexicali Rosa’s was prompted by allegations from a former employee that staff were showing up for shifts, told not to clock in, and were sent home if the venue wasn’t busy — all without compensation for that time. Many concerned citizens have begun expressing their distaste on social media, and sharing similar stories from other chain restaurants.
“At the restaurant I worked at the hostesses would sit around for two hours without pay, and all the tip money would go to the servers in the end. We were lucky to even be fed badda-bingers breadsticks or whatever while we waited,” said Jenna Blanchard in a Facebook comment.
“If you quit they’d just replace you with some other high school freshman willing to be a hostess while waiting to turn 19 so they could serve booze — that’s where the real money is here.”
The Mexicali Rosa’s communications team have taken to Twitter to respond to the scrutiny with zingy one-liners.
“Our compassion for this situation is as real and authentic as our Carne Asada burrito with optional sweet potato fries for an extra $2,” read one tweet.
“We have a burning passion for providing a living wage — a passion almost as hot as our Loco Wednesday special: the spicy nacho platter for only $6.99 with the purchase of a drink!”
A Mount Allison University sociology professor suggests that this type of power dynamic in the service industry is a result of the tipping phenomenon.
“Tipping is a North American custom that incentivizes business owners to only pay minimum wage, or lower when they can get away with it, with the idea that the servers will earn their living wage in tips,” explained professor Jeffrey Burton.
“I’m going to get so much flak for proposing this, but we as a society need to stop tipping, which will lead to employers having to offer better pay to keep their workers. It won’t be instantaneous, and it will be messy, but in the end it will be better for everyone. Just like staying home and making your own damned burritos.”
Mexi’s has said that, while they investigate the matter further, the employee who complained is welcome to come in any time for 15 percent off the super-authentic El Sampler Grande.