Over the years, I’ve worked in my fair share of sketchy cafes. That’s right, I’ve been paid off the books. I’ve done trial runs for zero dollarydoos. I’ve never received any super from any of the joints that I toiled in.
Moreover, the cafes that I worked at, in all likelihood, would have loved me being regularly tipped. Not because they cared about my wellbeing, no. Instead, they may have loved to have an excuse to pay me even less cash in hand.
“Oh, Joel,” one cafe owner might’ve said. “You’ve been tipped $50.00. So that’s going to cover three hours of today’s wages. Is that cool?”
Because of my own experiences, and the horror stories I’ve heard, I don’t want tipping culture to become Australian culture. If you give some cafes a centimetre, they’ll take a road trip from Perth to Sydney. Our country’s bad employers would find a bunch of creative ways to use tipping to further exploit their employees.
Moreover, America has a huge tipping culture, and some people have wielded this fact to smack down its minimum wage earners. As per The Well News, the current minimum wage is $7.25 USD. An attorney named Paul DeCamp claimed that this number shouldn’t increase, as tipping culture results in most folks earning almost $15.00 USD an hour.
This is despite the fact that too many American minimum wage earners need the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly the Food Stamp Program) to survive.
Could you imagine if such discourse were to leak into Australia? Could you imagine if it got even harder for our minimum wage workers to survive the current cost of living crisis?
That’s why The Age’s article, State by state: Australia’s most and least generous tippers, is concerning. Because while it’s interesting to know that Tasmania is the best at tipping, I’d rather the practice be completely irrelevant. Our country is better when our cafe workers believe tippers are unimportant peculiarities.
However, I don’t begrudge any minimum wage earner for earning some extra cash when everything from petrol to eggs is so expensive. All I can do is demand that our governments do more to ensure that these folks don’t need to get a tip in their lifetimes.