Restaurateurs talk on staff challenges

Owner , owner of Suashan Indian Restaurant on Addison Street in Shellharbour said local businesses can find it difficult to get specialised chefs into the area.  Picture: GEORGIA MATTS

Owner , owner of Suashan Indian Restaurant on Addison Street in Shellharbour said local businesses can find it difficult to get specialised chefs into the area. Picture: GEORGIA MATTS

TWELVE people are awaiting deportation after a recent blitz by the Department of Immigration on the South Coast. The department conducted a series of operations targeting a local businesses owner, with multiple sites, who had a “history of non-compliance regarding illegal workers.”  Among the 12 illegal workers detained were two women from local Warilla restaurant, Delicious Noodle House.  The illegal workers have been detained and transferred to Sydney Villawood Detention Centre.

IN the wake of the recent crackdown along the South Coast, two local businesses have spoken out about their experiences with the Department of Immigration.

Owner of a Thai restaurant in Shellharbour, Sirins Sukapojana, said she was at the centre of an operation 10 years ago.

“A big group came into the shop unannounced, during the lunch service and they locked all the doors, shut the shop and wouldn’t let anyone out,” Ms Sukapojana said.

“They came in like we were criminals and searched everywhere. They didn’t seem to care about the business that we lost that day.

“I understand that there has to be a process and there has to be laws in place, but it can be really hard and expensive to even apply for a sponsorship and then sometimes your application is rejected.”

A spokesperson for the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection said operations were regularly conducted across regional areas as part of the department’s enforcement program to ensure that non-Australian citizens have valid visas to work in Australia and also that employers check the visa status before hiring employees.

Sunny Rattan, owner of Suashan Indian Restaurant on Addison Street in Shellharbour, said it was the individual responsibility of business owners to do the right thing. However, Mr Rattan said it was often difficult to get workers who specialise in their cuisine into regional areas.

“People want to stay in cities, like Wollongong or Sydney and don’t want to come down here, so we have to sponsor someone to come over, which costs around $10,000,” Mr Rattan said.

“Being a different cuisine we need Indian chefs. The department ask us to advertise for employees on the Gumtree website and if we don’t find someone we apply to sponsor someone to come over.”

Mr Rattan said immigration costs increase every year in July by about five per cent.

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