Seven Years A Slave

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Muhammad Younis

Muhammad Younis grew up in a rural area of Pakistan. He has a wife and nine children. In 2002, Muhammad was recruited for a good job as a chef in a tandoori restaurant in Ireland. He was promised a work permit and decent pay. He took up the offer and moved thousands of miles away to support his wife and children back home, so they could have a better life at last.

Instead of the promised good job, Muhammad endured 7 years of slavery. He worked 80 hours a week in the cramped, unventilated and overheated kitchen of a takeaway in Clondalkin. He was paid just 51 cents an hour for the first 3 years and given just one day off each year – Christmas Day.

His passport was taken by his employer; he was constantly threatened and verbally abused. His every move was controlled; he was a virtual prisoner, shuttled between the kitchen and the small 2-bedroom house he shared with nine other workers. When his work permit ran out, the employer refused to renew it – to further control Muhammad, who was terrified of being deported. Muhammad was unable to reach out for help as he spoke only Urdu. He was completely isolated.

After 2 years, Muhammad was vindicated: the Rights Commissioner awarded him €92,634.42 in unpaid wages and compensation. This award was upheld by the Labour Court.

However, Muhammad’s employer brought the case to the High Court. He claimed he should not have to pay as Muhammad was undocumented and therefore the contract was illegal – so he should not have to honour it. Remember, it was the employer himself who had refused to renew Muhammad’s permit and had used Muhammad’s undocumented status to further isolate and threaten him. The judge ruled that as Muhammad did not have a valid work permit, he was not covered by employment legislation, and so he was not to receive a single cent in unpaid wages or compensation.

Muhammad Younis was brought to Ireland for the express purpose of exploitation; he was a victim of trafficking for forced labour. For 7 years he endured slavery, abuse and isolation. After all that, he was left with nothing and his employer got off scot-free.

In March 2012, having failed Muhammad Younis in every possible way, the Irish state informed Muhammed that it intended to deport him. Again with the help of MRCI, Muhammad appealed to the Minister for Justice and was granted Humanitarian Leave to Remain in Ireland.

Further to this…

The Migrant Rights Centre writes this morning:

The Supreme Court has OVERTURNED the High Court judgment and upheld the Labour Court award of €92,000 to Muhammad Younis! We are stunned, emotional and absolutely overjoyed for Muhammad. His strength and patience and perseverance have been vindicated in a unanimous judgment by the highest court in the land.”

Seven years of slavery in Ireland: Muhammad’s story (Migrant Rights Centre Ireland)

Related: Irregular Migrant Workers and Employment Rights in Ireland (Liam Thornton, Human Rights In Ireland)

Pic: Migrant Rights Centre Ireland

51 thoughts on “Seven Years A Slave

    1. newsjustin

      Yes. Great result. Is there some way that we (Irish people) might be able to donate to match this €92,000? I’m sure Muhammad doesn’t want charity, but it’d be a nice gift by means of an apology that such shite is able to go on in Ireland.

    2. scottser

      unbelievable that this case had to go to the supreme court. i take it the employer is still up to his dirty tricks?

      1. Drogg

        Employer should be named and really all his premises should be checked out as there are not more individuals in the same situation as Muhammad. What sort of country are we that in 2015 a case about reparations for relatively recently modern slavery have to be brought to the supreme court?

        1. newsjustin

          Well its people’s right to bring things to the Supreme Court if they want to. That’s not really the point.

          1. Drogg

            Sorry the point i was trying to make was why did it have to go to the supreme court for him to get justice? why did it have to be taken to the top court in the land?

        2. Al

          @drogg it was poppadom in clondalkin, did great rub and knew how to charge for it, makes me sick that they treated him like that

        3. realPolithicks

          Are there no laws in Ireland which prohibit this kind of behavior, why isn’t his employer being prosecuted?

  1. Ray

    Excellent result.

    No human deserves to be treated like this. Just imagine this was your Father, Brother or Son travelling abroad to try and make a living and send money home (as many Irish did in past), only to be treated like this.

    I honestly wonder how many more of these cases exist in Dublin yet to be found out.

    That employer should be named, shamed and boycotted.

  2. Blonto

    I hope that “employer” is hit with a massive legal bill followed swiftly by arrest for kidnapping/imprisonment and whatever else can be thrown at them. Scumbags.
    Here’s hoping Muhammad and his family get the karma they deserve from all this.

    Seriously hope there’s a follow up on this story….

        1. Atticus

          I think they were always in Harold’s Cross but also had one in Clondalkin too.

          I used to eat out of there quite a bit, so I’m really disappointed with this story. Glad it has worked out for the guy.

          They must have had another kitchen out the back of the takeaway though because the kitchen was one of those open plan areas with lots of room, but the article says, “Muhammad endured 7 years of slavery. He worked 80 hours a week in the cramped, unventilated and overheated kitchen of a takeaway in Clondalkin.”

  3. Jonotti

    How could you do that to another person just to make a few quid. I’m always wary about Indians and chinese places for this reason. You’d feel complicit if your custom was driving modern slavery.

    1. Blonto

      You’d think there would be some sort of state agency to make sure employment laws are being met and that working conditions are acceptable……….hmmmm…….who could possibly do a job like that….

    1. ahyeah

      Surely he’s suffered enough –>

      “Amjad Hussein, of the Poppadom restaurants in Dublin, said his business was seriously damaged by a negative campaign against him, and he suffered depression due to abuse received after the case was highlighted.”

      irishtimes.com/news/restaurant-owner-feels-vindicated-as-ruling-overturned-1.525346

      1. JLK

        Not nearly enough…he tried to deny it all. zero acceptance & nil remorse for his heinous behaviour of his cousin (!).

      2. Joe cool

        He can fk right off. Suffered depression. Well, don’t be an arsehole and the negativity won come upon you. He makes the suffering of real depression suffered a joke

  4. Christopher

    That is such great news. Now when is the owner of this place getting brought to court and put in chains for breaking employment laws and breaching human rights??

  5. Clampers Outside!

    I was getting angrier and angrier reading that… then BOOM! a properly decent outcome!!

    The employer should have his name and photo in every media outlet possible! Any mention of him being prosecuted for slavery….?

  6. Kolmo

    Great news story – I’d say there are hundreds like him, totally invisible in the grey-economy, horrific.

  7. Punches Pilot

    The end result of this story has delighted me. Now to nail that employer. Total boycott of such scum is what’s needed.

    1. ReproBrertie

      While a boycott would be nice I’d be more inclined to say that jailing of such scum is what’s needed.

  8. Corp Blimey Gov

    He won’t be seeing a penny of that, the company Poppadom Limited is dissolved.

    Still trading though, which itself is illegal.

    If anyone is sufficiently outraged, a call to the ODCE about this trading while insolvent will help 01 8585800

    Further to this, a domain name cannot be registered by an insolvent body, a complaint to the IEDR may help the domain be suspended 01 2365400

    I’m also pretty sure Just Eat etc won’t want to send this insolvent delinquent employer any more business? Tweet away.

  9. phil

    Id be surprised if he gets what he is owed, wouldnt be surprised if the takeaway closes tomorrow and opens next week under the wifes name, or something such like…

  10. 15 cents

    unreal that this could be brought to the courts and nothing can be done to punish the employer. law in ireland is on its @rse

  11. Toni The Exotic Dancer

    The Legal System in this country is a sick joke. This never should have been sent to the supreme court.
    I really hope he gets his money and the employer gets jail.

  12. ahjayzis

    That last paragraph made my day, congratulations Muhammad!

    I certainly hope his slave-drivers don’t die mangled in any horrible car-crashes or contract a terrible illness.

  13. Dubh Linn

    Let’s be realistic here, at the end of the day I am delighted that this man won his case and is now free from his arsehat of an employer but what has really changed?

    Are there any controls being introduced to stop this from happening again?
    Are there any checks being carried out by any government departments to ensure that people brought over here on work permits are being paid / treated fairly or that the renewal of their permits is not being unreasonably withheld?
    The sad truth is that the employer or at least some of the management in that restaurant were complicit in this case of slavery. Why are they not going to jail?
    What about the other 8 people that lived in the house with Muhammad? Are they being held and “paid” in the same way?

    What is to stop this restaurant going “insolvent” to avoid having to pay the back wages? Try not to act too shocked when it then “miraculously” comes back to life with a new registered owner but the same management and premises. They have got away with this behavior scott-free all for the cost of registering a new business with companies house.

    Their assets should be frozen and their premises taken from them until the true extent of their enslavement programme is known and all restitution has been made to any other victims of their shoddy employment practices.

    Jail MIGHT serve as a useful deterrent against them doing this sort of thing again. It would certainly be a warning shot across the bow to others tempted to adopt this working model.

  14. Eric

    I would presume Revenue will be looking at the company in question now to review their tax affairs and NERA are reviewing all staffing.
    Restaurant should be named across all media outlets. Disgusting treatment of any human being

Comments are closed.