Sunday November 29th 2015
In this opinion article successful Midlothian Restaurateur Matin Khan writes that current immigration laws are harming Bangladeshi restaurants and are a very real threat to their existence especially here in Midlothian and in Scotland as a whole.
Matin Khan writes:
The current strict immigration laws regulating Bangladeshi people visiting and working in the UK are having a negative effect on Bangladeshi restaurants. Reports show that the majority of the Bangladeshi restaurants in the UK are experiencing a shortage of experienced Bangladeshi chefs and other front of house staff because current immigration laws make it difficult for these staff to migrate and work in the UK.
Recent reports by the UK trade body, the Bangladesh Caterers Association, show that around two Bangladeshi restaurants in the UK close every week.
According to the UK law on skilled employees from outside the EU, chefs should earn an annual income of at least £29,570 and the restaurants they work in cannot offer takeaway services. The law is intended to encourage foreign businesses in the UK to employ local people.
However, Bangladeshi restaurants find locals are not willing to work the very unsociable hours that are required, including night shifts and weekends. To become a chef of Bangladeshi cuisine takes a lot of time learning and building up experience, which is not easy for a local UK chef to achieve. Additionally, there are many steps in preparing curries, which come from years of experience which is difficult to teach in a short space of time.
Several recommendations have been given on how the situation can be resolved.
In my opinion one of the most effective recommendations would be to allow undocumented people to work in the UK. Give them a work permit for ten years but without access to benefits. However, these workers would contribute to the UK economy by paying income tax.
This would enable Bangladeshi restaurants in the UK to continue hiring Bangladeshi chefs and caterers, so that they can remain in business and provide the wonderful food and experience that is now such a large part of UK society and culture.
If the UK Government does not make changes to the immigration laws to aid Bangladeshi chefs and caterers, many restaurants and takeaways will be forced to close. Then those Bangladeshi workers currently in the UK will become jobless and a burden to the UK Government.
There is also a case to be made to treat Scotland differently, to say London, as Scotland requires immigration for its economy to thrive.
There is a very real threat that most of the Bangladeshi restaurants in Midlothian and all over Scotland will be forced to close.
Matin Khan is the award winning owner of the Itihaas restaurant in Dalkeith, Midlothian.Tweet Share on Facebook