Efling will support an appeal in the case of four Romanians against Eldum rétt and a temp agency

25. 02, 2021

Efling will support four Romanian members in appealing an acquittal and dismissal ruling by the Reykjavík district court to Landsréttur. This ruling was made yesterday in their case against the temp agency Menn í vinnu, its managers, and the food processing company Eldum rétt.The ruling dismisses the claims of the Efling members against Eldum rétt and the temp agency by noting that, at the time of the ruling, the company had been delisted due to bankruptcy. Therefore, cases can not be brought against it. Therefore, derivative suits can not be brought on the basis of chain liability against the user company Eldum rétt. The dismissal of the cases against Eldum rétt and Menn í vinnu is therefore not based on a substantive evaluation of the case, but on an interpretation of bankruptcy law and the laws on temp agencies. This interpretation, should it stand, will weaken chain liability legislation and encourage the use of bankruptcy to evade claims.The ruling also accepts the right of employers to unilaterally subtract from the worker’s wages, without requiring contracts or documents showing that the expenses were real. Thus the employer is allowed to place his workers in illegal housing and subtract a rent, whose amount is decided unilaterally, without a rental contract being made. Further subtractions for other expenses, without any receipts being made available, are also allowed by the ruling.In the preamble to the ruling, various statements by the defendant are referenced which weren’t stated in their legal presentation of Eldum rétt and Menn í vinnu, and which the members didn’t have a chance to respond to. It is said that Efling didn’t report bad housing conditions of its members to the police. This is a significant falsehood; Efling sponsored a complaint to the district prosecutor on behalf of the four members and 14 others, dated April 14, 2020, as well as reporting the matter to the welfare ministry and the capital area trafficking team. The matter is still being investigated by the district prosecutor.Heavy burdens of proof are shifted onto the workers in the ruling. They are asked for a list of names to prove the number of people who lived with them in the abovementioned illegal housing. It is hard to see how they should have gotten hold of such a list and with what right they’re required to gather this information.In light of the significant shortcomings of the district court evaluation, Efling sees it as unacceptable. The union will support its members in appealing the case with the assistance of the legal office Réttur, which has led the case, should they wish to do so.“The main goal of the legal proceedings was to test the legal validity of chain liability. According to this interpretation of the district court, the new laws on chain liability do not provide the requisite minimum protection and we will not accept that. The fight against breaches of rights continues,” said Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir, head of Efling.Ragnar Aðalsteinsson, the members’ legal representative, had the following to say about the ruling: “The position of the court on the right of employers to subtract unproven and unauthorized items from the foreign workers’ wages is primeval. It reminds us of the times at the beginning of the last century, when shopkeepers and fisheries forced workers to get their wages in the form of credit at the company store, so the worker became completely dependent on the employer, who had all their affairs in hand.”The managers of Menn í vinnu have a long history of founding and running temp agencies, cheating workers of their wages, going bankrupt and returning on a new kennitala. The subpoena was directed against Eldum rétt on the basis of chain liability, because the four workers were rented out to that company. More Menn í vinnu staff worked at other companies, but those companies have settled their wages via Efling mediation.