BCA Says Its Campaign With The Migration Advisory Committee Has Been Recognised
Bangladesh Caterers Association (BCA) welcomes the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) call for an end to restrictions preventing those offering a take-away service from employing chefs outside the EU. BCA is a not-for-profit organization, representing over 12,000 British Bangladeshi restaurants and takeaways in the UK since 1960. It has been actively championing the interests of its members with government for years, particularly with its ‘Save the British Curry’ campaign, where BCA held a successful demonstration outside Parliament, attended by 3,000 caterers. Following on from this protest, 30 MPs strongly agreed that the government should accept BCA’s mandates.
This announcement by MAC is part of some of the recommendations on the Shortage Occupation List (SOL), which is under a major review. MAC is an independent body who advises the UK government.
SOL permits non-EU staff to work in the UK in roles where there is a labour shortage. Chefs are ranked high on the list, with an above number of vacancies but can only be employed in the UK if they earn at least £29,570 per annum and have five years or more experience in a similar role.
The government is also currently consulting on introducing a similar £30,000 salary threshold for EU migrants wanting to work in the UK as part of a new ‘skilled based immigration system.’
BCA also welcomes the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid’s plans revealed in the immigration white paper published in December 2018, which will allow 12-month visas for low-skilled workers from outside the EU; an issue that BCA has actively campaigned on.
BCA is still pushing the government to deliver a stronger policy and wants the changes to go further:
On the Shortage Occupation List, BCA wants to immediately reduce the salary threshold from the £29,570 salary, which is unrealistic for a small business and instead set the threshold between a realistic £18,000 to £20,000.
Formalise and recognise undocumented workers, which will immediately provide work placements for skilled chefs, thereby relieving a lot of the pressures being experienced by the curry industry.
A long-term solution to the current issue of shortage of skills. BCA urgently calls for a proper national apprenticeship scheme that will invest in the unique and authentic characteristics of ethnic catering, by working with BCA to establish specific training initiatives and programs. This will also create future employment opportunities for local people.
BCA has been invited to review the ‘government white paper’ and make a submission outlining its demands. Therefore, as part of this submission, BCA is documenting, independent national evidence from its members to show to government, the negative impact its immigration policy is currently having on this sector. The initial data from this survey is already proving to be interesting, and when the time comes to publish the final findings, BCA will call on the support of the British media, to cover this story and put it on the news agenda. This survey promises to reveal a real insight into Britain’s curry sector.
Kamal Yakub, BCA President says, “Removing the punishing takeaway clause is a positive step and is a well-documented demand that BCA has long been lobbying for – it will help restaurants from our curry industry that serve authentic Bangladeshi food to fill vacancies. For far too long, our restaurants have been suffering with a shortage of skills to fill vacancies.”
Oli Khan, BCA Secretary General says, “We want any future immigration policy to be beneficial to the UK’s curry industry, which currently contributes £4.2 billion to the national economy! We will continue lobbying government and future leadership candidates in the days ahead.”
Saidur Rahman Bipul, Chief Treasurer says, “BCA is not complacent and is concerned that the curry catering industry will still be struggling for staff. We will continue to lobby government to make further changes that are in the interest of our catering industry.” The Written Statement read out by Forhad Hussain Tipu, Press & Publication Secretary, Bangladesh Catereres Association UK.