The owners of Oklava, a fine-dining Shoreditch Turkish restaurant, are campaigning to revoke the Home Secretary’s classification of hospitality workers as ‘unskilled’ as part of her plans for a post-Brexit Australian-style points-based immigration system scheduled to come into effect from 1 January 2021.
“We started our campaign about one week ago” Oklava’s co-owner and chef Selin Kiazim told BritShish on 29 February. “I say ‘campaign’, but we actually just posted a picture and short caption on Instagram in response to the government’s proposed points-based visa system and we were overwhelmed by the support in the hospitality community. Because of this wave of support, we decided to take it further and start a petition to ask Priti Patel and her government to revoke 1) the categorisation of hospitality work as ‘low-skilled’ and 2) the points-based system which would see a steep decline in migration of hospitality workers from around the globe to the UK (as they would not qualify for entry under the government’s new system).”
Ms Kiazim also said that the reforms could be “disastrous” for restaurants across the UK, including Kebab businesses, explaining that “a large proportion of the hospitality industry in the UK is currently staffed and run by highly skilled employees with a non-UK background. The current staffing crisis (not enough applicants and a lot of job vacancies) will worsen. Under the new system, 19 out of 34 of our current staff would not have qualified to work in the UK; if the new system does come into effect, we foresee significant problems in filling our vacancies and running our business.”
The petition is currently live on change.org, and has already gained over 4,500 signatures.
To sign the petition and support Oklava’s campaign please click here.