A young Finnish woman who had been hired through NordJobb to work as a maid at a farmhouse offering accommodation for tourists in south Iceland, recently left her workplace as she was expected to work longer hours than agreed.
The Icelandic countryside. The photo is not related to the story. By Páll Stefánsson.
Visir.is went as far in its original reporting of the story as stating that the Finnish girl had “rejected slavery at an Icelandic farm,” whereas Stefán Vilbergsson, project manager at NordJobb in Iceland, told visir.is that the her reaction had been based on miscommunication.
“I find it unnatural that we weren’t contacted when the article was written because as we see it it’s not as much of a scandal as the story makes it out to be,” Stefán said.
According to the girl’s contract, she was supposed to work eight-hour shifts and have two days off each week.
However, at the farm she was expected to work 12-hour shifts without overtime and the employer said he would decide when she could get days off, visir.is reported.
Stefán said that according to his information, the farmer hadn’t been clear enough about what the situation at the farmhouse accommodation would be like at the beginning of summer. “It seems to us that [the longer shifts] were supposed to be temporary.”
“I understand that the girl was dissatisfied because, naturally, she wanted things to be clear,” Stefán stated. “With better communication it wouldn’t have been a problem.”
It happens that employees who are hired through NordJobb complain about the work load, Stefán said. “It depends on the number of tourists and if there’s a group visiting the employees are under pressure. We encourage employers to have solid shift schedules.”
On occasion, employees feel abused and contracts are violated, Stefán added, although he doesn’t remember specific examples. He pointed out that working under pressure is not for everyone.
The Finnish girl, who was interested in spending the summer in the Icelandic countryside, is currently seeking a different job with NordJobb. “We are hoping that she finds work in the coming days,” Stefán concluded.