Britain is phasing into a points-based immigration system that heavily favors educated workers, leaving unskilled workers from outside the European Union with no legal way in. Officials say unskilled jobs can be filled by Europeans, but Polish immigrants aren't doing much for the struggling curry business:
Thousands of curry restaurant workers gathered in London yesterday to demand that the government relaxes new immigration rules to avert a financial catastrophe caused by crippling staff shortages in the £3.5bn industry.
As demonstrators carrying placards demanding "Save Currynomics" surrounded the base of Nelson's Column, Muzammil Ali, who has run the Jewel in the Crown curry house in Swindon for 21 years, said he lacked skilled and unskilled workers. "This law will make staff shortages a very big problem for us," he said.
Shabul Muhth said his two restaurants in Kent had been raided at around 6.30pm on Friday and Saturday nights, the peak time for his business. Around 18 uniformed officers arrived on each occasion and closed the restaurant, he said.
"They didn't find anything but it spoilt business for those nights." No action was taken against the restaurant, he added. Muhth said he would not mind if raids were conducted on quiet nights, such as Sundays and Mondays, and officers came in plain clothes and "spoke nicely" to staff. "Come in like a gentleman," he said. "We're not drug dealing, we're selling curry."
The obvious government response would be to award more points to South Asians skilled in the culinary arts. But other industries will complain of shortages, and that leaves the government constantly monitoring every aspect of the economy in an attempt to predict the supply of labor. Australia updates its points system every six months; in April of 2007 it was trying to address a chronic shortage of hairdressers.
The currynomics update comes via Swati Pandey.