Oklava restaurant founders Selin Kiazim and Laura Christie have set up a petition in response to the UK government’s new immigration policy, which under the points system would class restaurant and bar staff as ‘unskilled’.
The petition calls on the government to revoke Home Secretary Priti Patel’s categorisation of hospitality workers as unskilled and oppose the changes to visa requirements for EU workers.
The petition says the new policy will “unfairly burden” the hospitality industry and will result in a potential loss of both workers and “creativity, culture and diversity”.
It reads: “We fear this is the end of hospitality as we know it… Hospitality workers and those in many other ‘low skill’ industries are worth more than an arbitrary amount of points.”
The petition can be seen here and follows the announcement of the plans earlier this week, described as a “hammer blow” that will see hospitality businesses close. The immigration policy to be introduced in January 2021 will have no provision for workers the government deems to be ‘low-skilled’. Prospective workers will need a job offer from a sponsored employer with a minimum salary of £25,600 – although there is a suggestion this could drop to £20,480 in industries with staff shortages if other conditions are met – as well as meeting a minimum English language standard.
Even if these requirements are met, potential employees will need to tot up 70 points in a system that prioritises high salaries and qualifications, with the Home Office estimating that 70% of the UK’s current EU workforce would not meet the new requirements.
In response to the announcement, chef Damian Wawrzyniak of Peterborough’s House of Feasts, charted his day’s activities as an “unskilled EU worker” on Twitter, which included a 6am start in the kitchen making sourdough bread, more than 600 doughnuts, a seven-course dinner service and over 16 hours in the kitchen.