Your reporter was out for an Indian last evening with a few boyos of this parish.
As we munched our way through bhajis and vindaloos and sank our icy cobras we couldn’t fail to notice the extended family at the next table celebrating a birthday with bags from Brown Thomas and iPhones and long conversations on the state of the bloodstock industry and holidays to India. The humble, quiet staff in attendance gave the scene more than a hint of the last days of the Raj.
With the hangover of too much good food and perhaps one or two beers it was a heavy head as well as heart that read today’s report from the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland. Gráinne O’Toole of the MRCI writes in the Journal.ie of the particular case of Mohammad Younis,a chef who worked in a restaurant of the Poppadom nationwide chain.
Mr Younis said he was forced to work 77 hours a week as a Tandoori chef at Poppadom takeaway in Clondalkin, with Christmas Day his only time off during the seven years he worked there.
During that time he was paid just 51c an hour between 2002 and 2005, although he secured increases to €4.46 an hour in 2005 and €6.25 an hour in 2006, all well below the minimum wage.
Mr Younis said he was also forced to work without any contract, tax or social contributions being paid, and his employer failed to renew his work permit or his passport as promised, leaving him undocumented. With the help of MRCI Mr. Younis won a case in the Labour Court against his employer for €92k, although he is currently battling to get the money and may have to go through the Circuit Court.
He is living in a hostel on €19.80 a week, and has been seeking a new job to secure a work permit. Mr.Younis has not seen his wife or nine children since 2002.
Gráinne O’Toole points out that the 169 similar cases brought to the MRCI’s attention in the last 6 years are just ‘the tip of the iceberg’
‘Ireland is in contravention of the European Convention on Human Rights by failing to bring in legal protection against slavery and forced labour’, she added.
As the Magdalene Laundries’ testimonies continue to reveal the horror of this country’s past, the collusion between church, state and the everyday people it is well worth noting that we may have turned a corner but we are not clear of the dark passageway of slavery and exploitation just yet.