For some waiters, tips are all they get

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A mong the various places for eating out in the city, the restaurants at the ‘Khadda Market’ in the Defence Housing Authority are a popular destination.
However, not many are aware that some of these restaurants do not pay salaries to their waiters, and there is one that actually takes money from them instead.
Even though the waiters receive hefty tips in this posh area of the city, the practice under way at these restaurants violate labour laws.
“I live in Gizri and work at a restaurant in Khadda Market for the last six months. I work from 8pm till 3am, but the restaurant management gives us nothing and we just survive on tips,” said 23-year-old waiter Zahid.
Another waiter working at the same restaurant, 25-year-old Liaquat told Pakistan Today, “Our owners do not give us salary. Instead, they take Rs 20 from us daily as uniform and token charges. If any waiter forgets to bring Rs 20, he is not allowed to serve that day.”
Eighteen-year-old Yasir, a waiter at another restaurant in the area said, “Earlier I was working at the restaurant that charges money from waiters, but now I have joined another restaurant located on the same street that pays Rs 80 to its waiter every day.”
Twenty three-year-old Arif, a waiter at another popular restaurant in the area said although the place where he works does not take money from him, it pays nothing as well.
“Our restaurant is ranked as the second major restaurant of the area. We all depend on tips but they are not enough. But what can one do,” he added.
One waiter on the condition of anonymity told Pakistan Today that his restaurant’s management does not allow them to serve unless they hand over the cash amount of the order to the cash counter.
“I bring Rs 1,500 daily for the orders. If any family gives an order of more than Rs 1,500 our restaurant’s cashier does not let us serve the food until we pay the money,” he said.
“Sometimes, waiters also get hit by vehicles and the restaurant management never provides them with any medical treatment,” he added.
On May 1, 2010 Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani had announced a minimum of Rs 7,000 salary for labourers and a policy that aims at transforming their lives for a better future.
None of the restaurant managements in the area were willing to talk to Pakistan Today on the issue.
Sindh Labour Minister Amir Nawab said that he was unaware of this practice under way at Khadda Market restaurants. “If such a thing is happening, I will take strict action soon,” he added.