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Foreign Workers in “Vulnerable Position”

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Foreign Workers in “Vulnerable Position”

Photo: Ian Prince.

The government, Ministry of Welfare, and parliament should take action to educate foreign workers about their rights and improve their working conditions, says the Association of Icelandic General Practitioners. RÚV reports that the organization drafted this resolution during their annual general meeting this week, stating that the rights of foreign workers are repeatedly violated when it comes to housing, wages, minimum rest time between shifts, workplace safety, compensation for workplace accidents, sick leave, and access to health care services.

“This group is in a vulnerable position in relation to employers and it is common for [foreign workers] to not know their rights” read the statement. “It is important that the dissemination of information among immigrants be improved, laws about temporary employment agencies tightened, and penalties be levied for violations,” such that they become effective preventative measures.

This statement contributes to an ongoing public discussion about the subpar working conditions that many foreign workers experience in Iceland as well as allegations of widespread abuse of foreign workers’ rights. Violations ranging from breaches of work regulations, pay disparity, and even labour trafficking of foreign workers were reported on in a recent television expose, leading Guðjón S. Brjánsson, a member of parliament’s Welfare Committee, to request that his committee is convene as soon as possible to investigate these claims further. It also recently came to light that immigrants currently make up a fifth of Iceland’s labour market, but are involved in a quarter of workplace accidents.

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