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Dublin: 6 °C Sunday 20 October, 2019

Migrant rights group says High Court decision leaves undocumented workers vulnerable

Today the court overturned a decision to grant Muhammad Younis an award of €92,000 in an exploitation case.

File photo of Muhammad Younis at an MRCI protest
File photo of Muhammad Younis at an MRCI protest
Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

THE HIGH COURT today ruled that a Pakistani worker who was awarded €92,000 for breaches of employment law, is not entitled to the money.

Muhammad Younis had been awarded the money after the Rights Commissioner found he had been the victim of exploitation by his employer, working long hours for just 55 cent per hour.

Justice Gerard Hogan found that the man, an undocumented worker, was not entitled to money awarded because his employment contract cannot be recognized.

Commenting on the High Court decision, Gráinne O’ Toole of the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland said;

A fundamental problem with the Employment Permits Act has been uncovered.  This is devastating, not only for Mr Younis, but for all undocumented migrants who are now left without protection against exploitation under Irish labour law.  It is a sad day for Ireland when a man who suffered extreme exploitation is denied justice while his exploiter walks free.

After the judgement Younis said, “I did nothing wrong and instead I am being further punished by today’s decision.  I am in a black hole and devastated by this news.”

Justice Hogan said he would send a copy of his judgement for consideration by the government.

“There must be some concern that this legislation will produce consequences which were not foreseen or envisaged,” he said.

“Specifically it may not have been intended by the Oireachtas that undocumented migrant workers should be effectively deprived of the benefit of all employment legislation by virtue of his illegal status…”

O’Toole said the law as it is now interpreted gives the green light to exploitative employers and the government must act immediately to guarantee undocumented workers are protected under employment law.

Solicitor for Younis James McGuill said his legal team “will examine all avenues including a challenge to the Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights.”

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