Overworked, Underpaid & At-Risk
Working during the summer in the service industry as a tasting room manager at a local winery prompted me to remind our visitors this year to be kind, proactive and understanding. The local paper covered my story (below), and the original article that I emailed to them is can be found below as well. As always, I hope you are all safe during these trying times; please reach out to share your stories as we plan our educational reopening this fall.
Original article sent to several papers:
Phase two and phase three reopening has been both a blessing and a curse. While my staff and I are grateful to get back to work, we face a unique problem in the service industry: fewer people want to work, yet the demand in the service industry is higher than ever. For some, the risk of exposure to COVID is significant enough that they are uncomfortable coming back to work. For others, it is easier to remain on CERB than come back to work. Whatever the reason, the bottom line is that the service industry is severely understaffed with regards to how high the demand is.
Since there are fewer staff, those that have chosen to come back to work are overworked and stressed out. Are those servers choosing to return to work getting an increase in wage? Likely not, as food and liquor establishments are scrambling to recoup lost revenue. And with physical distancing making the number of tables in the average restaurant lower than normal, this means that it is harder to supplement a server’s wage with tips, making it even more appealing to remain on CERB for some.
Not only are those in industry overworked and underpaid, they also represent a unique at-risk group to contracting the virus. Since travel in Canada is being promoted, people are itching to get out of their local area, and airlines are now packing patrons onto flights closer than canned sardines; folks are flooding into BC expecting a normalized summer vacation – and I fear this is only going to get worse throughout August. On average, I come into contact with about 200 people per day, and this is not an unlikely number of people to see during a given shift if you are in the industry.
So for those of you fortunate enough to be able to travel this summer, here are a few words of advice:
- Be kind. Your servers are likely overworked, underpaid and stressed out – if we are short with you, it’s likely because we’re exhausted trying to get everyone to adhere to our safety protocols.
- Book ahead and have patience. Your servers will do their best to accommodate you, but they can’t always make that happen in a timely manner due to the high demand – understand that sometimes we have to turn you away.
- Keep your close contact group small. Your servers represent a unique at-risk group due to the sheer number of guests seen during a given shift – so keep us safe by keeping yourself safe and keeping your bubble small.
From all of us in the service industry we thank you whole-heartedly for your support and understanding.