SCMP Saturday, September 9, 2000

Workers condemn mooncakes 'scam'


Restaurant workers say they are being paid in mooncake coupons to boost sales of the traditional delicacy in the run-up to Wednesday's Mid-Autumn Festival.
Workers fear they may end up with mountains of the sweet snack as they are afraid to take back unsold coupons for fear of being fired, unions have claimed.
The unions have attacked the practice - which they say is happening in at least two outlets - saying it is exploitation.
The system operates with bosses handing out differing numbers of coupons for mooncakes on sale at their restaurants to different levels of staff. Staff then have to either sell the coupons or have the money deducted from their pay.
Two employees at Kam Pak Cheuk Seafood Restaurant, one in Ma On Shan and the other in Kwung Tong, who registered their cases with the Catering and Hotels Industries Employees General Union, said they were forced to buy mooncakes.
A waiter for the restaurant said he was forced to buy five boxes of mooncakes costing $108 each, paid for out of his salary.
"The workers can sell the mooncake [coupons] to others, but if they fail, they would take the remainder rather than return to the restaurant in fear of being fired," union organising secretary Mandy Wong Kim-man said.
A former assistant manager at the Treasure Restaurant in North Point said he was given 50 mooncake coupons worth $137.60 each to sell this year.
Wan Cheuk-ming, manager of the Treasure Restaurant, said the system was part of every worker's job. He denied that workers who failed to sell their quota were punished.
A spokesman for the Kam Pak Cheuk Restaurant said: "These are all lies."
A Labour Department spokeswoman said it would investigate the claims.