Cafe owner breaks down on national television: 'Cannot survive'

An Aussie business owner has broken down live on air after admitting his cafe in Sydney's Five Dock "cannot survive" the minimum wage increase which was announced on Wednesday.

The Fair Work Commission announced the national minimum wage would rise by 5.2 per cent to $21.38 per hour or $812.60 per week, up from $20.33 per hour, which is a difference of about $40 a week.

The move aims to allow Australia's lowest-paid workers to keep up with inflation and the rising cost of living, but small business owners like Phillip Salhab admit it's a struggle for them too.

Phillip Salhab, owner Appetite Cafe in Five Dock, cries during interview
Phillip Salhab, who owns the Appetite Cafe in Five Dock, fears his business will crumble due to rising cost pressures. Source: Sky News

Mr Salhab, who owns Appetite Cafe in Five Dock, said there's a high chance he might have to close its doors as other cost pressures including soaring power bills and grocery prices have impacted him greatly.

When asked by host Peter Stefanovic how he was personally holding up, an emotional Mr Salhab broke down in tears.

The Cafe owner fell silent for a few moments as he tried to compose himself. He then apologised for the interruption as tears ran down his face.

"Yeah, it's hard. It's really hard," Mr Stefanovic said, before adding: "I feel you, Philip."

'We can't afford that'

At the start of the interview, Mr Stefanovic quizzed Mr Salhab about how the wage increase would impact his business.

"While we accept the increase in the minimum wage obviously for our team and others to keep up with cost of living pressures, we as a business cannot afford it,” he told host Mr Stefanovic.

A shortage of skilled workers has forced Mr Salhab to offer 20 per cent above award wage in order to attract workers who he says are jumping from interview to interview to get the best rate.

Mr Salhab, who opened his cafe before the first coronavirus lockdown in 2020, said it would be "a lot easier for us to close".

"At the end of the day, it’s a business. We’re here to make money. Our profit margin every day gets smaller and smaller and I really question why? At the end of the day, if there’s nothing to take home ourselves, then why?" he said.

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