So the Spectator Australia folk have finally put up a link to my piece suggesting that we ditch award wages in the restaurant industry and get servers hustling for tips instead:
Here I propose an experiment: very simply, the restaurant award should become optional. Under the terms of the test, restaurants could either pay their staff as directed by the government, or they could pay minimum wage and let tips make up the rest. To keep it fair, those working for restaurants still on the award would not be allowed to put so much as a tip jar next to the cash register, while establishments that had gone off the award would have to publicise that as well (including by pointing out their lower prices).
Were this to go forward, I predict three things would happen. Number one, the quality of service and price of food at non-award restaurants across Australia would improve substantially in the diner’s favour. Number two, the take-home earnings of those who were tipped — and systems would have to be in place to share out the tips beyond those working front-of-house — would increase. (When I was at university in Washington, DC, a friend worked weekends as a waiter at a local steakhouse and would come home with nearly $1,000 each night.) And finally, unions would do everything in their power to make life difficult for the non-award restaurants and their patrons and shut down the whole experiment.
Read the whole thing, as they say.