Rights groups urge loophole closure for migrants

Amnesty International and migrant rights groups have urged the Government to step up plans to close a loophole which means as many as 24,000 undocumented foreign workers have little recourse in cases of exploitation.

Rights groups urge loophole closure for migrants

Both Amnesty and the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) focused on the case of Pakistani chef Mohammad Younis, who arrived in Ireland to work in an Indian restaurant on a work permit, which his employers then allowed to lapse and failed to renew, while exploiting his labour.

In 2011 he was awarded €92,000 by the Labour Court, which found he had been employed for seven years in Clondalkin restaurant Poppadom. Last year the High Court overturned that decision because the judge found undocumented migrant workers cannot take their cases to the Labour Court because of a legal loophole. That loophole over jurisdiction in the Younis case has now been appealed to the Supreme Court, but the man at the centre of the action is still living in Dublin with little or no means and without having received any of the money the Labour Court ruled he was owed.

Last year, Richard Bruton, the enterprise minister, said the Employment Permits Act 2003 would be am-ended so as to prevent similar situations in future.

However, the legal amendment has not yet been published, though it may happen next month.

Amnesty International Ireland executive director Colm O’Gorman said: “Mohammad Younis was made to work a 77-hour week with almost no days off, threatened and forced to live in cramped, substandard conditions with nine other workers. Now he, and an estimated 24,000 people working in this country, have been told they have no protection in Irish employment law.”

Mr Younis told the Irish Examiner in Dec 2011 he was living in a hostel and he had been paid just €5,000 for two-and-a-half years.

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