Press Centre

Migrant Rights Centre Ireland calls on the government to take immediate action to end exploitation in the restaurant industry

PRESS RELEASE: 16 February 2008

The Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) today launched a report in Dublin uncovering the exploitation of migrant workers in Ireland’s Restaurant sector.  The report, entitled Exploitation in Ireland’s Restaurant Industry, by MRCI’s Restaurant Workers Action Group is based on the results of 115 one-hour surveys of migrant workers employed in restaurants in Ireland. The results of the study indicate that among those surveyed:

  • 53% earned less than the minimum hourly wage;
  • 43% worked in excess of the legal limit of 48 hours per week;
  • 44% did not get rest breaks;
  • 85% did not receive overtime pay or extra pay for Sunday work
  • 84% did not receive a contract or terms of employment

“These results are shocking,” stated Bill Abom, Co-ordinator of MRCI’s Restaurant Workers Action Group.  “There are serious problems in how migrant workers are treated in the Irish restaurant industry.  The National Employment Rights Authority also recently found that after inspecting over 850 restaurant businesses, 76% were in breach of employment legislation.  Our study is in line with those results.”

Mr Abom continued, “A successful restaurant industry is important for Ireland, but that success must not be built on the back of exploited workers.  The government needs to come to grips with the problem and take immediate action.  It needs to end the two-and-a-half-year delay on passing the Employment Law Compliance Bill with changes that give power to Labour Inspectors to fine employers on the spot for breaches of employment law.   It also needs to make changes to Work Permits so that workers from outside the EU are no longer tied to one employer.”