Press Centre

Ireland Still Has Not Criminalised Forced Labour

Beep to say no to modern day slavery

PRESS RELEASE: 9 February 2012

Ex-employee of Award-Winning Poppadom Restaurant Chain demands payment of €92,000 for Gross Exploitation

Muhammad Younis has been awarded €92,000 by a Rights Commissioner, following an official complaint about alleged breaches of employment rights. However Muhammad Younis’ ex-employer, Mr Amjad Hussain trading as Poppadom registered under New Business Horizons, has not yet paid the award despite a Labour Court ruling ordering him to pay the compensation.

Muhammad has taken to the street to demand payment for what is owned to him. Today Thursday, 9th of February, 2012 at 6.30pm he will protest outside the Poppadom Take Away Restaurant. He will stand with fellow workers to call for payment of the money owed to him and to raise awareness of the severe exploitation he suffered at the hands of his ex employer.

Muhammad said, ‘I suffered at the hands of my ex employer. I am protesting today to show the public what is happening to workers and to again ask Mr Hussain to pay me my money. I was treated like a slave. The exploitation I suffered was very cruel. I have nothing now. I will keep protesting until I get justice.”

Robert Dowds TD said, “Muhammed Younis was held in slave-like conditions while working in the restaurant and deserves to be paid the money he is owed. Like most people, I was under the impression that slave labour was consigned to history. That does not seem to be the case, with more and more cases of forced labour coming to light. It is simply unacceptable that any person is treated in this way, and I have spoken in the Dáil to urge the Government to do more to tackle the problem of forced labour in Ireland.”

According to Ms Gráinne O’Toole of the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI), who is supporting his protest, ‘The real challenge now will be to ensure that Muhammad actually gets paid but also we need the government to tackle the problem of modern day slavery. In Ireland, there is no legal punishment for modern day slavery, therefore, the only avenue open to Muhammad was to pursue breaches of employment law. The government recently stated that they would address the anomalies in the law to criminalise forced labour and were treating the situation as urgent. We are calling on Minister Alan Shatter to act now to protect victims against this heinous act.”

Ends

Background Information

Forced labour is defined by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention (No. 29) concerning Forced or Compulsory Labour

"...all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily."

In effect, forced labour is a severe form of exploitation where a worker performs work against their will under threat.

The ILO has developed indicators to detect forced labour as follows:

  • Threats of or actual physical or sexual violence.
  • Restriction of movement and confinement, to the workplace or to a limited area.
  • Debt bondage: where a worker works to pay off debt or loan, and is not paid for his or her services.
  • Withholding of wages, refusing to pay the worker at all or excessive wage reductions.
  • Retention of passports and identity documents.
  • Threat of denunciation to the authorities.

The International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Convention No. 29(1930) and Article 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights requires forced labour be punishable as a criminal offence. There is no law in Ireland that makes forced labour a criminal offence. Migrant Rights Centre Ireland has uncovered 169 cases of forced labour over the last 6 years and this is the tip of the iceberg.