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Foreign Caterers Discriminated against in Iceland

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Foreign Caterers Discriminated against in Iceland

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Archive photo. Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

Foreign-born waiters and cooks are being discriminated against in Iceland, according to Níels Sigurður Olgeirsson, the chair of Matvís, the labor union of food producers and caterers in Iceland. Níels maintains that these workers generally receive the same pay as common laborers, a lower salary than stated in their wage contract.

The growth of the local tourism industry has resulted in lack of manpower in hotels and restaurants. Managers therefore look for chefs, waiters and maids outside Iceland. Many of the foreign workers come from Central and Eastern Europe, ruv.is reports.

“These people are often paid as laborers and the education they have from their home countries isn’t taken into account,” Níels stated. Often, the foreign-born employees aren’t registered in Matvís and given access to the rights they are entitled to according to the union’s wage contract, he elaborated.

Níels stressed that according to Matvís’ wage contract, foreign professionals in the catering industry are entitled to a journeyman’s salary for two years, of which they are deprived if they’re not registered to the union but rather the Federation of General and Special Workers in Iceland (SGS).

“They are clearly being abused. And the restaurants’ problem is that there isn’t enough domestic recruiting. We need manpower and the sector is being built up way too fast,” Níels concluded.

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