2020欧洲杯足球即时比分

‘British people just don’t want these jobs’: what will happen to the restaurant industry under new immigration laws? 

In the face of the new immigration points system, we examine the effect on staffing at pubs, bars and restaurants....

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David Moore with staff at his Pied à Terre restaurant in Fitzrovia
David Moore with staff at his Pied à Terre restaurant in Fitzrovia Credit: Geoff Pugh

2020欧洲杯足球即时比分I used to buy my station coffee from a woman with a master’s degree from Warsaw University. Marta made a good long black and filled me in on the latest hot anthropology topics, while she simultaneously kept an eye out for light-fingered passengers pinching newspapers from outside the kiosk. I enjoyed my daily hit of coffee culture, despite my discomfiting awareness that Marta might prefer more intellectually challenging work.

Marta’s gone back to Poland now, I hope to a career where she’ll put her degree to good use. She is one of many European workers who have been helping the British restaurant, bar and café industry flourish since 2004, when the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia joined the EU, and a flood of new immigrants arrived on our shores. As Ravinder Bhogal, chef patron of London’s restaurant points out: “Our country has been run on the strong work ethic of immigrants from all over the world.”

These days, the British hospitality industry is dependant on staff from the EU and further afield. The sector, which also includes hotels, nightclubs, visitor attractions and “other leisure venues”, is the third-biggest employer in the UK. The latest figures from theshow that accommodation and food service account for nearly 5 per cent of all the full-time employed in the UK and 13 per cent of part-time employees.

In a survey by the after the Brexit vote, a third of companies stated that without EU nationals on the workforce, their business would not be viable.

2020欧洲杯足球即时比分Pret a Manger has said that only one in 50 of its job applicants is from the UK, while two thirds of restaurant chain Carluccio’s employees are EU nationals. According to British Hospitality Association figures, one in 10 bar staff and a quarter of chefs are EU nationals, along with a whopping 75 per cent of all waiting staff.

But with the new government plans for a points-based system to control immigration announced earlier this month, there may be far fewer workers from across the Channel to fill these roles.

The magic number of points is 70, and under the new system spelt out by Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, all immigrants will need a job offer as well as an adequate grasp of English to get to 50 points. The extra points can be bagged if the salary is above £25,600, well above the remuneration of most hospitality jobs (the average waiting staff salary in the UK is just over £16,000 a year, and for a commis chef it is £18,000), or by having a PhD in a Stem subject – sorry Marta, that master’s won’t do.

2020欧洲杯足球即时比分Another point scorer is having an offer of a job in which the UK has a shortage of workers. A shortage you say? All over the country, and particularly London, there is a chronic lack of chefs and waiters.

The most recent found there were more vacancies for chefs than any other skilled job. But while there are plans to fast-track NHS workers and quadruple the number of agricultural workers, no such scheme exists for kitchen or front-of-house staff.

The Government may implement one if things get desperate – say, God forbid, the House of Commons dining room is short-staffed – but it will take months for results to kick in, perhaps too long for struggling outlets.

In the industry, the feeling is that things began to change after the referendum result, leaving EU workers here feeling vulnerable and unwelcome. David Moore, owner of London’s Michelin-starred restaurant, which opened in 1991, recalls:

2020欧洲杯足球即时比分“From week one [after the referendum result] I have felt it has been more tricky to find people. There were always bright young sparks who wanted to come to perfect their English, but they started to dry up really quickly.” His observations are echoed by other restaurateurs, and government statistics show a fall in numbers coming from the EU since 2016.

One of the issues with the new scheme, according to Moore, is the need for EU immigrants to have a job in place before they arrive. “You can’t employ most waiting staff, assistant managers, sommeliers, from a distance,” as picking the right person is not about a good CV, but “spirit, drive, personality and work ethic. They need to come for a day or two for a trial first.”

Bread and butter: Pret a Manger says only one in 50 of its job applicants is from the UK Credit: Tom Stockill

2020欧洲杯足球即时比分He would like to see a two-year work permit for young people, similar to the one-year Australian visa for under-30s. “We are such a destination for bright young people. English is the global language. It’s spoken everywhere. They come to London to perfect their English – let them do it, don’t put any limits on it, make it accessible.”

Without more flexibility in the immigration system, he sees a reduction in growth in the industry. “Combined with crippling business rates, and the spectre of coronavirus, too, there is huge worry about that,” he says, referring to the fall in business that London restaurants have seen in recent weeks. “And yes, I foresee closures.”

Tim Martin, the founder of Wetherspoon, with around 900 pubs, bars and hotels around the UK, has been a staunch supporter of Brexit. He was optimistic when I spoke to him this week, pointing out that two thirds of immigration last year was from outside the EU.

“Pubs and restaurants did pretty well before the wave of immigration from Eastern Europe 15 years ago – because most immigration is from outside the EU. Life will go on and there is an opportunity to do well.” Perhaps surprisingly, he is very pro-immigration. “It’s very important that the Government and the people of the UK understand that, for increased prosperity in the future, all the evidence is that you need a gradually rising population… The birth rate in the UK is quite low, so I think we need a reasonable level of immigration, wherever it is from, in order to be prosperous in the future.”

2020欧洲杯足球即时比分Martin is as enthusiastic as Moore about the EU workers in restaurants and bars. “We don’t want them to go back! They have been fantastic. They tend to be young people, they are highly energetic, and the UK in my opinion has benefited greatly from the injection of new talent in general. So I am in favour of a very liberal immigration system for our EU friends. I will be campaigning for not too many restrictions.”

“Pubs and restaurants did pretty well before the wave of immigration from Eastern Europe 15 years ago," says Tim Martin, founder and chairman of JD Wetherspoon Credit: Simon Dawson

Of the 29 employees at Pied à Terre, two are English and the rest are EU nationals. “British people don’t want to work in these jobs,” says Moore. “They don’t understand them as a career.”

2020欧洲杯足球即时比分I rail at the supposition that our own workforce is work-shy and feckless. But with unemployment at its lowest since 1974, it’s easy to see why working in bars and restaurants may not appeal. Bhogal points out the new immigration scheme does not give restaurant work a “skilled” status. “Designating the roles as lower skilled already creates the connotation of undesirability,” she says, “which is self-defeating.”

Then there are the hours. A survey by , the trade union, of chefs in London showed that nearly half worked more than 48 hours a week and one in seven were at the stove more than 60 hours a week. Add in to this un-family friendly hours, plus the necessity of “split shifts”, where a chef or waiter works two stints a day with an unpaid break generally not long enough to go home and rest, and it’s no wonder that stress levels and staff turnover are high.

Martin agrees it is increasingly difficult to fill positions. But he is more upbeat than Moore, saying it results in “bars and restaurants having to put up wages, offer better conditions and, in a way, that’s what makes the world go round.”

It’s the competition for labour that improves living standards, he says. “So I think that what you have there is the industry employers wanting one thing and the market forces doing their work on behalf of employees on the other. And that has been a very successful tension throughout history.”

Paying staff more is good – but the inevitable result is that prices for customers will go up. “I don’t see how I can charge more,” says Moore. “The market is so competitive.”

2020欧洲杯足球即时比分Instead, he hopes more British people will be tempted into the business. “Not everyone should go to university – get yourself a job. Start off in a low-paid job in a restaurant at 17 and by the time you are 22 you can be a manager earning £35,000 a year with no debt and really strong career prospects.”

I wonder what Marta would think.

‘British people just don’t want these jobs’: what will happen to the restaurant industry under new immigration laws?