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Staff shortage hits Indian eateries in UK

February 13, 2008 17:22 IST

The chicken tikka masala, adjudged Britain's national dish, may soon be out of reach of many Britons, as acute staff shortage has forced many Indian restaurants to close down across the United Kingdom.

The £1 billion Indian food industry is facing an acute shortage of chefs due to restrictions on employing cooks from the Indian subcontinent.

Concerned over the situation, the Immigration Advisory Service, UK's largest charity providing representation and advice in immigration and asylum law, has asked the Home Office to ease restrictions on migrant workers entering Britain.

In a letter to the Immigration Minister Liam Byrne, the IAS said that the restrictions on lower-skilled workers from outside the EU were causing a severe labour shortage that it could cause "irreparable damage" to the Indian food industry. The industry employs over 50,000 people in nearly 10,000, restaurants, which are largely owned by people of Bangladesh origin.

Earlier requests by the industry to ease restrictions were met through by roping in east Europeans there. The IAS said attempts to get east Europeans to work in Indian restaurants had failed because they did not have the "cultural sensitivity" required. It also asked for the rules to be relaxed for catering workers from Bangladesh.

In 2005, the British government ended a short-term visa scheme for people working in Indian restaurants in the wake of an illegal immigration scam involving Bangladeshi nationals.
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