Press Centre

High Court Decision leaves undocumented migrant workers without protection

Muhummad Younis holds chains in his hand to demand law to be changed

PRESS RELEASE: 31 August 2012

Today Justice Gerard Hogan ruled on a case concerning Amjad Hussein, trading as Poppadom Restaurant, challenging a decision of the Labour Court with respect to Muhammad Younis, who was awarded €92,000 for breaches of employment law.

Justice Hogan found that the Employment Permits Act 2003 prevents an undocumented worker from seeking redress under labour law as the employment contract cannot be recognised.

Grainne O’ Toole of the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland said ‘A fundamental problem with the Employment Permits Act has been uncovered.  This is devastating not only for Mr Younis but for all undocumented migrants who are now left without protection against exploitation under Irish labour law.  It is a sad day for Ireland when a man who suffered extreme exploitation is denied justice while his exploiter walks free’.

For many years, Mohammed Younis was subjected to modern day slavery. He was paid 55 cent per hour. He worked extremely long hours with no day off. The employer failed to renew Muhammad’s work permit which rendered him undocumented.

Mr Younis said ‘ I did nothing wrong and instead I am being further punished by today’s decision.  I am in a black hole and devastated by this news’.

Justice Hogan said he would send a copy of his judgement for consideration by the government.  He stated ‘there must be some concern that this legislation will produce consequences which were not forseen or envisaged.  Specifically it may not have been intended by the Oireachtas that undocumented migrant workers should be effectively deprived of the benefit of all employment legislation by virtue of his illegal status...’

Grainne O’ Toole continued ‘the law as it is now interpreted gives a green light to exploitative employers.  Other countries have protections in place where undocumented workers, who have had their employment rights violated can seek legal redress.  The Government must act immediately to guarantee that undocumented workers are protected under employment law. '

In conclusion, solicitor James McGuill acting for Muhommad Younis stated ‘we will examine all avenues including a challenge to the Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights’.