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Chinese restaurant suspected of slavery

Two Chinese citizens who worked in Chinese restaurant The Great Wall in Reykjavík have sought shelter with MATVÍS, The Icelandic Union of Food and Restaurant Workers, which has provided them with work and accommodation.

In breach of union regulations, the two Chinese immigrants were allegedly forced to live above the restaurant and were not paid according to union contracts, Fréttabladid reported.

According to Fréttabladid, the restaurant is suspected of being connected with illegal human trafficking. Níels S. Olgeirsson, the chairman of MATVÍS, said that the restaurant applied for work permits for five Chinese chefs last year. The qualifications of the workers submitted by the restaurant were not adequate. Then MATVÍS had discovered that payments to these immigrant workers were not according to union contracts.

“We went to the place with an interpreter and had Icelandic payslips translated into Chinese. Then two of the employees started communicating with us but the others were afraid to say anything. We talked to the owners and manager and explained the rules to them. We told them that the wages should be placed in a bank account. They claimed they had paid the employees with cash.”

Olgeirsson said he was afraid that the people in question were subjects of human trafficking and had paid their employers to get to Iceland. They would then have to pay ten percent of their wages, otherwise they were threatened.

“They have families in China and are afraid to act because they fear something will happen to them,” said Olgeirsson.

The Immigration Department of the police was alerted to the case of the Chinese last autumn but it was only last week that police got data about alleged human trafficking.

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