Strike threat after raid

PUBLISHED: 13:13 18 March 2008 | UPDATED: 21:37 15 June 2010

AN IMMIGRATION raid on an East Devon Chinese restaurant has rocked the Chinese community which, as a result, is threatening regional strike action.

AN IMMIGRATION raid on an East Devon Chinese restaurant has rocked the Chinese community - which, as a result, is threatening regional strike action.The Bamboo restaurant in The Strand, Exmouth, was raided on Thursday, March 6, by seven police and immigration officers. A chef and a waitress, both Chinese nationals, were arrested.The Border and Immigration Agency said a 37-year-old man, a failed asylum seeker who absconded after his claim for asylum failed, and a 17-year-old woman did not have the right to work in the UK.Martin Lai, the proprietor, who also owns two other Chinese restaurants, is angered over the way the raid was conducted.In a statement Mr Lai said: "The whole of the Chinese community has been subjected to raids by the BIA (Border and Immigration Agency) and the general consensus of opinion is that they use heavy-handed techniques and treat them in a similar way to terrorists."As chairman of the Devon and Cornwall Chinese Association, which has 300 members, he will be suggesting regional strike action across Chinese restaurants and takeaways.The strike will be over concerns at the way the BIA deals with employers and over government immigration policy.Mr Lai wants the government to allow illegal immigrants to work until the travel documents to effect their removal from Britain are secured.A BIA spokesperson said: "Employers need to make sure they know their responsibilities. That means checking the identity of people they want to recruit. "We want to encourage members of the public to come forward with information they might have about illegal immigration in their area."The BIA has issued two fixed penalty notices, one per illegal worker, of up to £10,000 for failing to make the correct checks on his staff's right to work in the UK.A spokesperson from the Bamboo restaurant said the arrested staff did have identification when they were employed, but was unable to comment on the exact procedure or forms of identification needed when hiring.Another of Mr Lai's restaurants was raided last year, and the restaurant's spokesperson said the BIA "visited regularly".A BIA spokesperson said: "All of our operations are based on intelligence received about illegal working and are not targeted against any particular community, individual or group."There were 285 successful raids in the South West last year, which resulted in the removal of 615 illegal workers. Under the new immigration system introduced on February 29, employers face civil penalties of up to £10,000 for each illegal worker.Those found to have knowingly hired illegal immigrants face unlimited fines and a jail sentence. The Bamboo restaurant has been open for 24 years and was recently refurbished. Mr Lai is currently away in Hong Kong.

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