Sweatshop issued work permits in spite of warnings

Iceland Review Online, 22 June 2005

The Icelandic Federation of Trade Unions (ASÍ) has found new housing and employment for the twelve Polish workers exploited by the subcontractor Geymi ehf (For background coverage, please see Iceland Review, Daily News, June 21, Sweatshop in Reykjavík?). The assistant managing director of ASÍ, Halldór Grönvold, said the workers all had vast experience in the construction industry.

According to Icelandic State Radio, RÚV, Geymir applied for seventeen work permits that were sent to the union Efling for review. Because Geymir was in arrears with payroll taxes, Efling recommended turning the application down. In spite of this recommendation, the Directorate of Labor approved the work permits.

Halldór also says that the contract that the twelve Poles signed with their former employer portrays unusual cruelty he says that he's never seen a contract like it. A copy of the contract is available on the Morgunblađ website (http://www.mbl.is/mm/frettir/innlent/frett.html?nid="1144685).

According to Halldór, other Polish workers in the construction industry have contacted ASÍ and complained of bad pay and bad treatment.

The case is under investigation with the police, ASÍ and the Reykjavik City Environmental Health and Protection Office.