Trade slams foreign worker proposals

Claire Dodd

Claire Dodd

06 October 2016

Plans by the government to have companies reveal the number of foreign workers they employ, have been slammed by the industry – including steak powerhouse Hawksmoor, who yesterday publically shamed the new proposal via Twitter.

Speaking at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham on Wednesday, home secretary Amber Rudd said the proposals would prompt a conversation about what whether companies need to look beyond 'local' workers to fill skills gaps, and ensure foreign workers do not take jobs 'British people could do.'

However, the suggestions have been widely criticised since being announced. Trade body, the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR), said it estimates that the hospitality industry depends on migrant workers for up to 24% of the total workforce.

The ALMR said the government plans to 'effectively name and shame' employers of non-UK nationals was short-sighted and failed to recognise the crucial work these employees do filling skills gaps in the UK hospitality sector.

ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: 'Any plan to spotlight those businesses deemed not to be doing enough to support British workers would be hugely unhelpful and shows a lack of understanding of the way in which many operate.

'Pubs, bars and restaurants do not actively recruit abroad seeking foreign workers, they recruit locally and it is unfair to imply that businesses are failing to support the UK workforce or failing in their duty to provide opportunities or training.

'Pubs, bars and restaurants invest a significant amount of time and money in their employees whether they are UK or non-UK nationals. Any implication that UK businesses are failing the UK populace by hiring migrant workers is unfair and uninformed.'

The trade body added that research by People 1st shows that the hospitality industry will need to recruit 11,000 chefs by 2024. With colleges reporting a decline in interest for full-time chef programmes, hospitality businesses will have to work hard to fill these and other vacancies, and non-UK workers will make a vital contribution filling these gaps.

The proposals have been broadly criticised by business leaders and rival politicians. Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, said: 'Conservative party leaders have sunk to a new low this week as they fan the flames of xenophobia and hatred in our communities and try to blame foreigners for their own failures.

'Drawing up lists of foreign workers won’t stop unscrupulous employers undercutting wages in Britain. Shutting the door to international students won’t pay young people's tuition fee debts, and ditching doctors from abroad won't cut NHS waiting lists.'

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