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Channel 10 turns on George Calombaris and covers underpayment saga

Channel 10 has turned one of its biggest stars, MasterChef judge George Calombaris, by covering his underpayment saga on The Project.

On Thursday’s episode of the current affairs show, host Lisa Wilkinson interviewed a former waitress at the 40-year-old’s Hellenic Republic restaurant in Melbourne.

Orlaith Belfrage slammed the celebrity chef and claimed she is owed money on top of the $7.8million he has been forced to pay back to underpaid workers. 

Bad times: Channel 10 has turned one of its biggest stars, MasterChef judge George Calombaris (pictured), by covering his underpayment saga on The Project

Bad times: Channel 10 has turned one of its biggest stars, MasterChef judge George Calombaris (pictured), by covering his underpayment saga on The Project 

It’s a surprise move for Channel 10 to cover the saga, considering that Calombaris has co-hosted MasterChef since its debut in 2009. 

The cooking show is one of the network’s highest rating programs, and even won the 2019 Logie Award for Best Reality Program.

Daily Mail Australia has contacted Channel 10 for comment. 

On Thursday’s episode of The Project, Ms Belfrage claimed she is still owed ‘anywhere between three and four thousand dollars’ after being wrongly classified as a casual worker.   

‘For my overtime it was just explained that that was just how it is, and I can just suck it up and work the job, or leave,’ she said. ‘And I definitely think that this is systemic across the entire industry.’ 

Underpaid: Former waitress Orlaith Belfrage [right] told Lisa Wilkinson [left] that she is still owed considerable money from George's Hellenic Republic restaurant in Melbourne

Underpaid: Former waitress Orlaith Belfrage [right] told Lisa Wilkinson [left] that she is still owed considerable money from George’s Hellenic Republic restaurant in Melbourne 

When asked by Lisa if George paying back the outstanding $7.8million meant it was the end of the scandal, Ms Belfrage strongly disagreed: ‘I completely believe there’s more to come. I personally have money owing to me.’

She added: ‘There’s a group of people I used to work with that I’m in contact with still that haven’t been contacted by this second or third wave of media around the Made establishment wage saga. So I completely believe that there’s more back payments to be paid.’ 

Ms Belfrage agreed with calls for Calombaris to be sacked from his presenting role on MasterChef, saying he should ‘absolutely’ lose his job.

‘There are so many either employers, business owners or chefs that do the right thing with paying their workers and have good principles. They should be rewarded – if you want to call it that – by being able to be on those shows,’ she said. 

Outrage: MasterChef fans are calling for George [right on the show] to be sacked after he was fined for underpaying his restaurant workers by $7.8million

Outrage: MasterChef fans are calling for George [right on the show] to be sacked after he was fined for underpaying his restaurant workers by $7.8million

‘It shouldn’t be given to people that are just so against the good principles and the law within the hospitality industry.’   

Calombaris has been ordered to give the government $200,000 after underpaying 515 staff between 2011 and 2017, the Fair Work Commission announced on Thursday.

He has already paid back his staff but will have his business audited for the next three years to make sure the mistake doesn’t happen again. 

Scandal: George has been ordered to pay the government $200,000 for underpaying 515 staff between 2011 and 2017. Pictured arriving at court in January 2018

Scandal: George has been ordered to pay the government $200,000 for underpaying 515 staff between 2011 and 2017. Pictured arriving at court in January 2018

Calombaris has categorically denied claims that he deliberately underpaid his staff, and said he believed he was doing the right thing.

‘I am deeply sorry for what has happened, and have apologised to our affected team members, past and present,’ he told the Herald Sun.

‘There are two important things for Australians to know. The first is that when we discovered there were incorrect payments to members of the team, we self reported to the Fair Work Ombudsman and co-operated with their investigation.

‘The second is that our team members, past and present, have been back-paid in full, and the vast majority repaid before October 2017 in consultation with Fair Work.’

Should he be axed? After the announcement, MasterChef viewers called for Calombaris to be axed from the hit Channel 10 show

Should he be axed? After the announcement, MasterChef viewers called for Calombaris to be axed from the hit Channel 10 show

Despite calls for Calombaris to be axed from MasterChef, Channel 10 executives have publicly supported him. 

‘George and Made Establishment have reached an agreement with the Fair Work Ombudsman in relation to this matter,’ a network spokesperson said. 

After the announcement, MasterChef viewers called for Calombaris to be axed from the popular cooking show. 

One wrote: ‘He should be sacked… he talks about his staff as family and food is about love – integrity and honesty where are they ? Sack him!’

Another added: ‘MasterChef should sack him, he’s a repeat offender’.  

Audited: The chef [centre on MasterChef] has already paid back his staff but will have his business audited for the next three years to make sure the mistake doesn't happen again

Audited: The chef [centre on MasterChef] has already paid back his staff but will have his business audited for the next three years to make sure the mistake doesn’t happen again

Daily Mail UK

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