Ansar Ahmed Ullah
Contributing Editor, Shottobani
London: The Bangladesh Caterers Association (BCA) held a demonstration in front of the UK Houses of Parliament on the 10th of July 2018 to save Britain’s curry industry dying of staff shortages. According to the Bangladesh Caterers Association British curry houses are closing at an alarming rate 3/4 every week due to shortages of staff.
To redress this shortage of staff BCA demanded the recognition of the unique characteristics of ethnic catering, stop all excessive disruptive Border Immigration Agency (BIA) actions, recognise urgently the curry industry as an area of skills shortage and relax the rules accordingly to allow urgent recruitment and support the move to regularise undocumented workers which would alleviate much of the pressure of providing a work placement for skilled chefs.
At a meeting that followed the demo inside one of the Committee rooms in the parliament where former British Minister and the ruling party MP Sir Mike Penning said solution can’t be found by just bringing people from Bangladesh to solve the crisis. It has to be resolved from Britain. No country can give permission to bring staff from only one country. He referred to himself as a curry lover. He said that the UK government has taken various steps including establishing a curry college to solve the problems of the curry industry.
Meanwhile, Rushanara Ali MP said Brexiteers who said leaving the European Union, would enable to bring staff were lying. She asked where are they now? She said to the BCA leaders that you have done lot of work, lobbying to solve the staff crisis. In addition, you will have to abide by the labour laws, your staff will have to be trained. She emphasized on training as well as working with All Party Parliamentary group.
Chaired by the President of Bangladesh Caterers Association UK Kamal Yakub and conducted by the General sScretary Oli Khan other MPs who addressed the meeting were Steven Timms MP, Niki Morgan MP, Anne Maine MP, Karen Buck MP, Nick Griffith MP, Seema Malhotra MP, Mike Gapes MP, Paul Skully MP, Baroness Pola Uddin amongst others. Former President Pasha Khandaker and General Secretary MA Mumin BCA leader Parvez Ahmed, Enamul Haque Chowdhury and many others were also present.
Other MPs said that the problem of the staff was not only in the restaurant sector, but also in the high street businesses. They urged to work together to solve this problem.
The organisation’s president Kamal Yakub said that in response to the manpower crisis of industry, we demand the UK government to review its immigration policy. Due to the government’s strict immigration policy, there has been a complete vacuum of skilled manpower in the catering sector. Due to the lack of skilled chefs it is having severe effect on the curry industry. He said that at least 3 to 4 restaurants in the country are closing every week due to staff crisis, which is very worrying. The prevailing hostile economic situation is discouraging restaurant owners from investing in the industry.
In the protest programme several hundred businessmen from different cities of Britain came to voice their frustration. Bangladesh Caterers Association UK is the national platform of 12,000 British-Bangladeshi Restaurants and Takeaways in the United Kingdom.