Curry On Up Trafalgar

Restaurant workers take to streets in protest against new immigration laws

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In a battle to save the great British curry, thousands of chefs, owners and curry aficionados descended on Trafalgar Square last weekend to protest against new immigration rules.

The new 'restrictive' immigration rules encouraged owners of the £3.5bn Indian restaurant industry to employ Polish, Bulgarian or other migrants from the expanded European Union who do not need permits to work in Britain.

Although whilst leaders of these eastern European communities claim they can cook Indian dishes equally well, owners disagree insisting that without years of experience and sensitivity, traditional foods cannot be performed by people outside the Indian cultural zone. They believe that cooking food is a cultural process that needs the right material and cultural inputs.

Organised by the newly formed Ethnic Catering Alliance representing over 40,000 restaurants Sunday’s protest was against a new points-system for immigrants from outside the EU, which is said to favour highly skilled migrants who can fill gaps in the labour market.

The alliance, which includes Chinese and Turkish restaurateurs also facing similar staff shortage problems, wants to urge the Government to ease new restrictions on migrant workers for the ethnic restaurant market.

However, Gordon Brown wants to see workers who are already in Britain trained up to fill staff shortages in these restaurants adding that the Government had come to a "fair" position on immigration.

April 22, 2008