RESTAURANTS and bars across the country have been quick to respond to proposed changes to immigration rules.

The new laws would close the door to workers defined as “unskilled”. Kate Nicholls, the chief executive of industry body UK Hospitality, fears the worst: “Ruling out a temporary, low-skilled route for migration in just 10 months’ time will be disastrous for the hospitality sector and the British people. Business must be given time to adapt.

“These proposals will cut off future growth and expansion and deter investment in high streets. It will lead to reduced levels of service for customers and business closures. Hospitality is already facing an acute labour shortage, despite investing significantly in skills, training and increasing apprenticeships for the domestic workforce.”

International workers make a huge contribution to the food and drink scene here in Glasgow. Global influences have enlivened our culinary outlook and brought a new energy to local streets. It’s important that Glasgow continues to attract talent.

I phoned chef and owner Peter McKenna at The Gannet and caught him just after another lunch service. What does this all mean to his own cadre of supposedly unskilled workers?

“I don’t consider any of them unskilled,” he said emphatically. “The people we get in are very highly skilled in their individual fields. Calling them unskilled is a disgrace. I don’t think I’m the only one who thinks this. When I look around my kitchen at the moment, I’d say around 60% would be international workers and the other 40% would be Scottish. It’s quite worrying.”

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So, should we now be concerned that people will be discouraged from making the move to Glasgow? “The message has gone out – it’s just not welcoming any more. They will go to other places instead of Scotland and that’s really unfortunate. They don’t seem to care about the chef shortage and it doesn’t seem like they’ve done any research.”

I’ve worked in restaurants and bars in other countries and it was a fantastic way of getting to know a new city.

There’s a sense of camaraderie in the hospitality industry that means new arrivals become part of a team and are have a sense of belonging.

Peter told me: “Think about the amount of new restaurants that have opened in the last couple of years, this is important to Glasgow and we need to stick up for the people who make these places work. We need a certain calibre of staff at The Gannet and if they are not coming to the city, we may need to rethink business plans.”

Ryan James, owner of Two Fat Ladies, gave his own perspective on behalf of Glasgow Restaurant Association. He agrees that the legislation will affect the hospitality industry more than most, including the city’s hotels.

“We’ve had many European workers in my restaurants, people who add different elements to our service, who treat it as a profession, and they are not getting the respect they deserve,” he said. “We give jobs to students, very intelligent kids, who work very hard and it’s fantastic.

"On that side of things, it should still be okay for the students coming here. Getting full-time workers from other countries will be more difficult”.

He highlights a local success story: “Paul Stevenson, when he opened Paesano, he hired pizza chefs from Naples. That’s a big investment from him. They trained up locals in the kitchen. He found the talent base for what he was looking for.

“That’s the way it should be. That might not happen in the future.”

Ryan believes that restaurant owners have been preparing for changes relating to Brexit for a long time and there may be ways to mitigate the impact of the new immigration regime. He echoes the sentiment that international workers have a positive experience working in hospitality.

Ryan said: “They all become pals, they get to know the customers, they become involved in the city. We have a wide family of workers who have come through Two Fat Ladies and then taken what they’ve learned back to their own country, taken a wee bit of Glasgow with them when they’ve returned home. It’s a wonderful thing.”