The former Galvin at Windows general manager says politicians are sending a “very negative message” about their perception of the sector.
Yesterday (19 February) the government announced it wants to “end the reliance on cheap, low-skilled labour coming into the country” by imposing tougher entry requirements on immigrants that would prevent them from working in many hospitality roles.
Sirieix told BigHospitality: “When you say an industry is full of ‘cheap foreign labour’ it has negative connotations. It shows the way people making these policies feel about people in the hospitality industry.
“The thoughts behind these policies are demagogic. It’s not going to bring us any closer to solving the staff and skills shortage or boost the economy.
“We’ve always had this upstairs downstairs masters and servant relationship with the hospitality industry. If you don’t respect a profession you are not going to give it the support and focus it needs.
"The hospitality industry is not appreciated or valued. How are we going to attract anyone to work? People will not want to be associated with an industry that is deemed for people that are stupid or cheap. [The government] is demonising the industry.”
In a post on Instagram Sirieix called for a “coalition of the willing” to work with him to help change perceptions of the hospitality sector.
The Frenchman, who has lived and worked in the UK since 1992, says he would not have moved to the country under current immigration proposals.
“I would have looked at it from outside and thought, do I want to be there? I’ve lived here 27 years and have always been welcomed with open arms. But what’s happening now is turning the country against [foreigners]. It’s an own goal and makes no sense.”
Sirieix has long been an outspoken champion of the industry and started National Waiter’s Day in 2012 to highlight the work of front of house staff.
He is also involved in training schemes such as Galvin’s Chance, which helps young people not in education or employment train in hospitality work, and The Right Course, which teaches prisoners about service and cooking with the dual aim of reducing reoffending and tackling the skills shortage in the sector.