Paid just €50 for 72 hours labour


Bray People - - Bray People - Myles BUCHANAN

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.’

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