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New work visa rules ‘will decimate Northern Ireland hospitality trade’

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Hospitality Ulster chief Colin Neill

Hospitality Ulster chief Colin Neill

PA Media

Hospitality Ulster chief Colin Neill

Harsh new UK Government rules stopping lower-skilled workers from getting visas post-Brexit would “decimate the NI hospitality sector”, it’s been claimed.

The radical plans being proposed would see those the Government classes as ‘unskilled’ and those earning less than £25,600 no longer able to work in Northern Ireland. An initial £30,000 salary level was suggested, and while reduced, calls for a devolved level here have fallen on deaf ears. Lower-skilled workers would not get visas under post-Brexit immigration plans unveiled by the Government.

“Employees with soft skills (classified as ‘unskilled’) are a vital element of the success of the Northern Ireland hospitality and tourism offer, however, they have been ignored,” Colin Neill, Hospitality Ulster chief executive, said.

“What sort of message does that send out to the world? How many hospitality businesses will now not be able to fill vacancies right across the sector?

“There has been failure to take into consideration the unique set of circumstances here; complete ignorance of the importance of our sector in particular; and demonstrates absolute contempt for our position.”

And Tina McKenzie, FSB NI policy chair, said it is “disappointing that there appears to be no route to temporary employment for migrant workers, particularly given there is little time for businesses to adjust to the new migration policy”.

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