Paid just €50 for 72 hours labour
MIGRANT WORKERS ABUSE OF HUMAN RIGHTS STILL RIFE
SOME MIGRANT workers continue to be exploited by the restaurant trade as they earn less than the minimum wage, don’t get any rest breaks and receive no holiday entitlements at all.
These findings are just some of the results of a report called ‘Exploitation in Ireland’s Restaurant Industry’ commissioned by the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland’s Restaurant Workers Action Group.
One participant talks in detail of how he was bullied and paid a mere €50 a week while working 72 hours in a County Wicklow establishment.
The survey participants came from a host of different countries, with the largest number of correspondents being Bangladeshi (18 per cent), Indian (17 per cent) and Chinese (15 per cent). 12 per cent lived in Wicklow, with only Dublin (58 per cent) having more participants.
One worker’s testimony, from Bangladeshi man Jamal, outlines the huge levels of exploitation he came up against while involved in the restaurant industry in County Wicklow. He arrived in November of 2002 to work as a full-time chef in an Indian restaurant, mainly to build a better life and earn money to support his wife and family and help his younger brother go to university.
He paid €5,000 to get here after his boss told him he could earn up to € 300 a week. However, when he first started the job he was on nothing more than €50 a week without any accommodation.
‘I did not receive any contract of employment. My boss never gave me the original work permit either.
‘He made me work up to 72 hours a week. I had to work lunch and dinner shifts every day of the week. I did not have any day off. He would pay me in cash. I never received a pay slip or P60. He would also make fake business reports to save money from being taxed,’ says Jamal.
On a number of occasions Jamal complained about his treatment, but his boss would threaten to cancel his work permit and verbally abuse him.
He worked there for nearly five years, receiving an increase of €25 in his weekly salary every year. In 2007, he was paid €175 per week for 72 hours of work, less than €2.50 an hour. During that five-year period he received only one holiday for five weeks in May of 2005 without any pay.
Exasperated by the experience Jamal goes on to say, ‘I was extremely upset about my conditions. I came to Ireland for a better life but I had no day off and the only thing I knew was the restaurant and going home to sleep. I was very angry and depressed and did not know what to do. I felt like I was treated as a slave. The boss thinks he can bring people here and treat them as he likes because he knows we are all scared.’
After finally plucking up the courage to make a complaint against his employer, Jamal found that his problems only ended up getting worse as his unscrupulous boss rang his family back home in Bangladesh.
‘He said to my parents that when I go on holidays to Bangladesh that I might have big problems. My family was very scared because he has lots of money and can make problems for us back in Bangladesh.
‘Now when I travel home I always go places with someone else with me.’