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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 February 2008, 11:20 GMT
Curry houses 'need more migrants'
Curry
There are thousands of vacancies in curry houses
The Home Office is being urged to ease restrictions on migrant workers entering Britain from Bangladesh, to avert a crisis in the curry industry.

Curry houses are struggling to fill thousands of kitchen staff vacancies, says the Immigration Advisory Service.

For years, many staff in the UK's 9,000 curry restaurants have been recruited directly from Bangladesh.

But restrictions on the workers have been tighter since eastern Europeans were given employment rights.

It is thought the curry industry in the UK employs at least 50,000 people, with the majority of restaurants Bangladeshi-owned.

'Cultural sensitivity'

According to the IAS, restrictions on lower-skilled workers from outside the EU are causing a labour shortage so severe it could cause "irreparable damage" to the curry industry.

It argues that attempts to get eastern Europeans to work in curry restaurants have failed because they do not have the "cultural sensitivity" required.

More needs to be done to get existing UK Bangladeshi's into work
Mark Pritchard
Conservative MP

The IAS has written to the Immigration Minister, Liam Byrne, asking for the rules to be relaxed for catering workers from Bangladesh.

But government officials said they had no plans to review the current arrangements.

A Border and Immigration Agency spokesman said its objective was to "manage migration in the national interest"

"Striking the right balance between safeguarding the interests of the UK resident work force and enabling UK employers to recruit or transfer skilled people from abroad in order to help them compete effectively in an international market," he said.

Conservative MP Mark Pritchard said figures from the Office of National Statistics showed an already high level of unemployment among UK-based Bangladeshis.

"I oppose any easing of visa restrictions given that the existing Bangladeshi community living in the UK already has the highest unemployment rate of any other ethnic group," he said.

"More needs to be done to get existing UK Bangladeshis into work - and to end claiming state benefits."

SEE ALSO
Chef shortage sparks curry crisis
08 Jan 08 |  Scotland
UK bans non-EU unskilled workers
05 Dec 07 |  UK Politics
Britain's curry house crisis
03 Aug 04 |  Magazine

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