The latest ATBUK committee meeting took place on Tuesday 5th of April 2011 at the Royal Thai Embassy, London.
Before the meeting began representatives from a group of Thai fashion students gave a presentation and appeal for support from the committee about their upcoming July 2011 fashion show at the Serpentine Gallery in London’s Hyde Park. Entitled “Re Make Re Model – The Reconceptualisation of Thai Textiles” the show intends to present the skill of young Thai fashion designers in the manipulation of Thai textiles produced under the Queen Sirikit Foundation.
During the meeting the committee discussed the current state of applications to the group and ways in which efforts could be made to extend membership to those Thai businesses located outside of London. Suggested ideas included spreading the word through Thai student groups based in the UK as well as the organisation of a road show and introductory events throughout the UK. A recruitment drive from within the committee was also suggested with targets being set for personal recruitment numbers.
Feedback was given on the current situation with regard to the problematic import of certain Thai vegetables still affecting the EU. 100% checks of fresh produce at the port of departure have been introduced to comply with EU regulation. The Ministry of Agriculture is currently working to create a list of trusted exporters and hopes that in the future, with ongoing discussion Thailand will be able to prove that its exports can be made compliant for import into the EU without restriction once again.
With regards to changes in the UK immigration law and the issuing of work permits the committee discussed their efforts to demonstrate that professional chefs should remain on the UK shortage list and that the minimum chef’s salary (£28,260 per year excluding accommodation and meals) set out in the latest Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) is too high and not practical given the existing arrangements of Thai chefs’ employment by most Thai restaurants in the UK. The committee also agreed to form a response to MAC as a group within the deadlines of their feedback period, which is the 10th of June 2011.
One development in this case is the organisation of 2-3 day intensive course for up to 50 Thai chefs in the UK by the Department of Skills Development of the Thai Ministry of Labour in collaboration with ATBUK. This would aim to up-skill existing Thai chefs in the UK with the focus on authenticity of Thai cuisine as well as special techniques in Thai cooking. The committee discussed plans as to best accommodate these classes in a kitchen large enough to house 50 student chefs. More details on this will follow in the near future.
The next ATBUK committee meeting has been scheduled for Thursday 26th May.