“We have increased wages by 20%!” : Montpellier restaurateurs cannot find seasonal staff

People on the terrace but no one in service, the Montpellier restaurant fears a shortage of seasonal workers for this summer.

Montpellier restaurant owners and bar owners are starting to grit their teeth. With the approach of fine weather and the first week of spring vacation, most of them find themselves completely helpless in the face of the lack of seasonal workers. “Oh don’t tell me about it, blows Alexandre Paredes, director of the restaurant Les Mômes, place du marché aux fleurs. We are 14 people short of having a full team this summer, in other words it’s hot.”

The least we can say is that there is no crowd in front of the door, while customers have been flocking since the beginning of April. “Of the people who submit CVs, 30% do not show up for the interview and those who remain have no experience. But how to train them, when the terraces are shielded?” Alexandre regrets not finding qualified personnel, despite all his attempts to attract motivated young people. “I tried everything: Pôle emploi, Indeed, ads on the networks. I don’t know what to do anymore.” The restaurateur is forced to leave his establishment closed two days a week. “I would like to open 7 days a week, but unfortunately I don’t have the capacity and I’m blocked,” he concludes.

“Mykonos, Ibiza, Saint-Tropez… where it pays better!”

Same story on the side of the bars of the city. César Bergougnoux works at the Comptoir de l’Arc, place de la Canourgue. Despite the multiple announcements, the bar/restaurant is faced with the same problem as Les Mômes: the lack of qualified staff. “It’s often young people who have never worked in catering. But training takes us too long, especially when we have people to serve. The season is starting and we already have a lot of flow”

So, where have the competent young waiters gone who lent a hand to the restaurateurs in high season? Alexandre Paredes has his theory. “Mykonos, Ibiza, Saint-Tropez… where it pays better!” However, it is not for lack of having put some of his own into it. “I have increased the salaries of all employees by 20%. What more can I do?”.

Butter, butter money…?

A labor shortage phenomenon also present on the entire coast. For Christophe Boix, manager of the beach hut La plage des Alizées in La Grande-Motte, the main obstacle to recruitment would be the motivation of the young generation to evolve in this profession. “I only work with the old ones anymore. The young servers are ‘hello, I haven’t woken up’ or ‘I would like 50% more salary'”, he says. He too has revised the salaries of his employees upwards since the Covid-19 crisis. “Wages have increased significantly, I pay people well. But we don’t earn more,” says Christophe sternly.

A fed up also expressed by Marcellin Doucet who runs the Blue Beach hut. While his team is rather small, he still can’t find the four additional people he needs for the month of June. “I’m thinking of my colleagues, who are hiring 50 people for the summer. I don’t know if they’ll make it,” he says bitterly.

He shares the opinion of Christophe Boix. “People are too demanding! We have accustomed them to the comfort of teleworking, and partial unemployment. Now they are totally lacking in motivation.” They still have a few weeks left to complete their teams. It remains to be seen whether they will find the personnel necessary to provide long and often intense services in the summer.

A post-Covid effect?

For many of these recruiters, the Covid-19 period has not been favorable to the restaurant sector. Faced with the difficulties caused by the global pandemic, many servers have decided to retrain or change their work habits, which are often restrictive. “I received several young people who wanted to negotiate their schedules, not to work at noon or not to work in the evening. But this is not the reality of catering”, chants Marcellin Doucet. The most motivated remain the minors, looking for a summer job, or the students, who wish to offset the cost of their studies and their life in the city. Unfortunately for them, the summer season does not seem conducive to this type of hiring. “Integration under these conditions is not manageable”, concludes Alexandre Paredes.

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