Calling him the heart and soul of his business, Noma chef and co-founder Rene Redzepi, changed Ali Sonko’s life forever.
He made the dishwasher a partner in his restaurant business in Denmark.
Sonko, an immigrant from Gambia, has been working in Noma for 13 years.
Redzepi, the second generation of an immigrant family, knows that a talented and diligent person deserves to be rewarded because that is how he earned his success.
Sonko, of course, has worked hard and impressed his boss.
Could Sonko’s experience be replicated in Hong Kong?
I doubt it because most restaurant workers in Hong Kong are not devoted to their jobs and it is extremely difficult to find a restaurant owner like Redzepi
The fact is Hong Kong restaurant owners are stingy when it comes to employees’ benefits while workers in general do not see their jobs as something worth devoting themselves to. They see it as a way to make a living.
As working experience means little in the industry, the only way that workers can be promoted is by changing jobs. Dedication to their employers must be exceptional for those who choose to stay.
The system is also to blame for young people not having enough ambition to move up the ladder.
For instance, in order to qualify for public housing, they would take a part-time job instead of a full-time job and ask for cash payment to avoid a strict review of their eligibility.
But when they suffer work-related injuries, their rights are greatly impaired.
To put it simply, it is the housing problem that discourages them from working hard.
On the other hand, most restaurant owners do not care too much about employees and even exploit them.
Employees who have been ill-treated by their employers in turn become tyrants when they move up.
Meanwhile, many restaurant workers are seeing their jobs at risk as owners introduce machines to replace labor to cut costs.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on March 7
Translation by Taka Liu
– Contact us at [email protected]