ACTU boss slams Calombaris as shameless

George Calombaris continues to come under fire after he shut down most of his restaurant empire, with ACTU president Michele O'Neil accusing him of shameless behaviour.

The celebrity chef's restaurants were put into voluntary administration on Monday, leaving about 400 workers in limbo.

Claiming Calombaris "stole $8 million from the people who do the hard work in his restaurants", Ms O'Neil accused him in a Facebook video on Wednesday of being "the poster boy for the employers that were campaigning to cut penalty rates to workers ... shameless behaviour.

"So now more than 400 jobs on the line, at risk because George wasn't prepared to run a fair legal business where he paid workers what they were entitled to.

"But do you think anything has happened to George? Is he being disqualified, is he being deregistered? No, we don't have a law for that."

Twelve of Calombaris' venues have stopped trading after the celebrity chef placed 22 companies in the hands of advisory and investment firm KordaMentha.

Administrators Craig Shepard and Leanne Chesser hope to find buyers for the businesses quickly so that some of the staff may keep their jobs under new operators.

"We could have them ready to go by Monday," Mr Shepard told reporters in Melbourne on Tuesday.

Declining patronage and an inability to turn the business around forced Calombaris to close his Made Establishment Group.

The decision came after it emerged last year that staff were back-paid $7.8 million in wages and superannuation in 2017.

Employees have been paid outstanding wages and superannuation up to Sunday, the administrators have been told.

But KordaMentha will have to verify that claim after reports emerged of some workers not having been paid their annual leave.

If the business cannot pay those entitlements through recovered funds, workers may be forced to apply for what they are owed through a Fair Work guarantee scheme.

Oanh Tran, head of the Victorian Trades Hall Council's legal centre, said Made workers on temporary migrant visas may be forced to leave Australia.

"There are going to be at least some, and probably many, who are in that really vulnerable position."

KordaMentha and the unions don't know how many workers are on those visas but the United Workers Union, which covers hospitality workers, says at least one has approached them anonymously.

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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