Chefs & unions



Kitchens and unions

The following piece is my view and opinion on the matter of unions in the workplace, and why they don’t really work in the kitchen. With all this talk over pay, conditions, overtime and rosters, I feel that unions are pushing for more until they get what they want and then want more.

Now I am in agreement with nurses and Gardai not so much they rest of the people going on strike. The dispute for Gardai is about restoration of previous entitlements and pay, give it to them, they take care of us we should look after them. ( As much as we give out about them we need them) Same as nurses and midwives pay them what they deserve for the hours of hard work and years of training that has to be done to them into hospitals working.

The kitchen in my view is run like the army everyone has their job to do and when to do it, stepping away from this without seeking permission from a higher ranked officer or chef is frowned upon with almost contempt.

In the last year I’ve list track of the amount of times I heard about traffic disruption around Dublin due to a strike action, quite frankly I would love to see Mucheal o Leary take over there and see what happens, when he took over in Ryanair it was losing money hand over fist now it’s one of, if not the biggest profit making airlines in Europe.

In the kitchen conditions are the same everywhere hot, due to ovens grills salamanders or a 6 ring burner. You deal with sharp knives (should be sharp) all day, standing all day under pressure all day to get all prep and service ready by that 1pm lunch rush or that 6pm deadline when every body else is off work. Most places that are unionised get paid extra for anti social hours, i.e weekends, bank holidays. Thank God it’s Monday.  For us in the kitchen to get pay raise or better conditions you must earn the raise by doing the job of your superior for me it’s the job of sous chef though I’m not ready for it I’m pushing myself to get there, by being better than the day before trying to put up clean plates that look identical to the one that left before it, controlling a service and not getting flustered in the middle of a rush.  Putting ideas forward for menu items learning more everyday. Trying to develop communication skills, experience and knowledge of different dishes and food, and the list goes on. For conditions well if you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen really sums it up.

As for chefs on strike well I’ve only here if one but that was years ago long before my time when brigades were bigger and more complex now that worked with no union only a brigade uniting under their senior chef to get what they wanted, now with smaller crews it’s not so easy and with chefs being more networked now anyone who does this is tarnished by doing so, and as a result may never work in a kitchen again.

Now in all that I fail to see what a union rep can do for anyone here, now I am open to correction here.

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Artwork huge thanks to Jenny @wattonarts on Instagram

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