Following the news last week that the recently aired Season 11 of Masterchef will be the last one hosted by Gary Mehigan, George Calombaris and Matt Preston, rumours have circulated about the reasons for their departure.
All we know for sure is that contract negotiations broke down between Network Ten and the three judges.
It has been reported that the three judges, each being paid $1 million a year, demanded a 40% pay increase that Network Ten wasn’t prepared to accept. However, Matt and Gary have denied that the negotiations broke down because of money.
Many commentators have noted that the timing indicates George Calombaris’ under-payment scandal may have played a role. Calombaris was recently fined a $200,000 ‘contrition payment’ for underpaying hundreds of workers at his restaurants a total sum of $7.83 million. Considering that $200,000 is approximately 2.5% of the $7.83 million Calombaris owed workers, some people have criticised the figure as being too low. The President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions has said “While anyone else would face prison time for theft of millions of dollars, employers routinely steal huge amounts from working people and get away with simply returning the money they have stolen and paying a paltry fine.” The pressure on Network Ten from unions to fire Calombaris continued to build in the week leading up to the announcement that the trio of judges was leaving Masterchef. George Calombaris’ full interview on ABC’s 7.30 will air tonight (31 July 2019), but to see a preview in which he apologises for underpaying staff, click here.
Now we are left with two questions. Firstly, who will host Masterchef next year? Secondly, and more importantly, what is an adequate penalty for such extreme wage theft?
Wage theft is never okay. If you feel like you have not be paid fairly for your work, or that an employer has taken advantage of your labour, please contact Freedman & Gopalan Solicitors on (02) 8917 8700 or via the enquiry form on the website. If you are not sure what is the correct award for your industry, check with Fair Work Australia’s Pay Calculator.