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Brighton business leaders hit back at Jamie's "lazy British workers" rant
Brighton business leaders have hit back at a TV chef who claimed British workers were lazy and “wet behind the ears”.
Jamie Oliver, who owns an eatery and cooking school in the city, said he would shut down his restaurants if he was forced to hire “whinging” UK-born staff.
In a magazine interview, the 38-year-old celebrity cook also claimed that European immigrants are much "tougher" workers.
But one city leader branded Mr Oliver's controversial comments a “myth” and said the chef should make sure his staff were not being overworked.
Mr Oliver, 38, said: “I think our European immigrant friends are much stronger, much tougher.
“If we didn't have any, all of my restaurants would close tomorrow. There wouldn't be any Brits to replace them."
Adding he used to work “80 to 100 hours a week” in his 20s, Mr Oliver said: “The EU regulation now is 48 hours, which is half a week's work for me. And they still whinge about it!
"British kids particularly, I have never seen anything so wet behind the ears.
"I have mummies phoning up for 23-year-olds saying to me, 'My son is too tired'. On a 48-hour-week! Are you having a laugh?"
Mr Oliver owns two eateries in Brighton - Jamie's Italian on Black Lion Street and Recipease on Western Road.
However Tony Mernagh, chief executive of the Brighton and Hove Economic Partnership, claimed it was “untrue” that immigrants worked harder.
He said: “It's a popular myth that certain nationalities work harder, people from Poland or Lithuania for instance.
“We certainly do see a lot of foreign workers in hospitality in Brighton.
“But the truth is that they are prepared to work for less. This is vastly different from suggesting they work harder than British-born staff.”
Mr Mernagh also said “times have changed” since Mr Oliver worked up to 100 hours a week in his youth.
He said: “What employer would expect their staff to work that hard? There should be a different approach because employers have a duty of care.”
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