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“It’s really hurtful to be discriminated against because of your country of birth”

“It’s really hurtful to be discriminated against because of your country of birth”

Wednesday 18 August 2021

“It’s really hurtful to be discriminated against because of your country of birth”


The owner of the Kiln has come out in support of her employees after receiving a message on social media suggesting she should "get some local staff".

Jenny Meeks took to Facebook to express her outrage at the discriminatory message her staff received, who continue to work tirelessly despite not having been home for more than a year.

It comes as the local hospitality industry struggles to stay afloat, with severe staffing issues leading to some restaurants closing or amending opening hours.

“I was hoping that people would be supportive, everybody is feeling tested at the moment, and we just want a bit of support,” said Ms Meeks.

“No-one's been home in 18 months, everyone is in a foreign country, they all speak fluent English, they’re all doing amazing jobs,” she said.

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Pictured: “I was driving home and getting more and more upset on behalf of my staff that they should have to deal with that,” said Ms Meeks, on why she decided to post about the incident online.

Ms Meeks received the message from a customer who couldn’t get a table at the Kiln during a busy period of the day.

They asked to join someone else’s table, something which isn’t common practice at the Kiln. After being turned away by staff, a message was sent to the Kiln’s Facebook page suggesting they should get some more local staff.

“It’s pretty horrible to say that; it doesn’t matter where you come from, it really doesn’t matter as long as you’re a good person,” said Ms Meeks.

The Kiln employs people from Poland, Portugal, South Africa, and the Phillipines.

“They’re not very happy. It’s really hurtful to be discriminated against because of your country of birth – it’s horrific.

"Without international staff there would be no hospitality industry; we don’t have one local person working with us and it’s not through lack of trying,” she said. 

Pictured: The post on Facebook has seen an outpouring of support from the community.

The impact of Brexit and a new visa system has made it more difficult for local businesses to hire from abroad and it has been exacerbated by the corona virus pandemic and extensive travel restrictions.

“As an industry we are really struggling – it’s always been a tough industry but this time we’re really, really worried,” said Ms Meeks.

The post has received hundreds of messages of support, and Ms Meeks is thankful for the community response.

“I’m blown away by the outpouring of support. It was such a small comment, but it upset me and my staff so much,” she said.

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