The Irish Supreme Court has ruled that Pakistani man Muhammad Younis will receive back pay for the seven years he spent working in slavery in Ireland.
A High Court judge had previously ruled that as Younis was undocumented for the majority of the time he worked in his second cousin's Poppadom restaurant in Newlands Cross, Dublin, he was not protected by Irish employee rights laws and the contract with the restaurant was invalid.
The Supreme Court has now overturned this judgment, awarding him with $103,319.80 (€92,634.42) for the seven years he was exploited by the restaurant owners.
Full #Younis statement coming shortly if we can manage to stop smiling and crying with joy!— MRCI (@MigrantRightsIR) June 25, 2015
Born in Pakistan, Younis was brought to Ireland with a work permit in 2002 with the promise of a good job in a tandoori restaurant to help him support his wife and nine children back in Pakistan.
In reality, Younis was to spend seven years in slavery in the cramped, unventilated and overheated kitchen of his second cousin’s takeaway in Clondalkin, Co Dublin. Working 80 hours a week, he was paid just 51 cent an hour for the first three years and was given just Christmas Day off.
Fifty-nine year old Younis claims he was kept under constant control, threatened and verbally abused. His employers confiscated his passport and kept him in a small 2-bedroom house with nine other workers.
Once his first year in Ireland was up, his work permit ran out, and Younis’ employers refused to renew it leaving him worrying about deportation and living in fear. To make matters worse, he could only speak Urdu, leading to his further isolation and his inability to reach out for help.
BREAKING: Supreme Court overturns High Ct judgment in Younis case, upholds Labour Ct award of €92,000 in unpaid wages pic.twitter.com/9mc9xqDrLe— MRCI (@MigrantRightsIR) June 25, 2015
A concerned co-worker eventually came to his aid and with the help of Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI), Younis was released from his captive situation and his rights were realized.
With the aid of MRCI, Younis took action to win the fair wages he had not received throughout his time in Ireland and in 2011, the Rights Commissioner awarded him $103,319.80 (€92,634.42) — $96,069.56 (€86,134) of which was back pay.
When the money was initially not paid to Younis, further action was taken and a Labour Court ordered his cousin to pay.
In response, his cousin, Mr. Hussein, brought a case to the Irish High Court in 2012. Hussein claimed that as Yousin was undocumented he was not entitled to the money. The High Court judge ruled that without a valid work permit Younis was not covered by employment legislation or entitled to compensation.
With the further help of MRCI and the support of Amnesty International, Younis appealed to the Supreme Court where the High Court decision was overturned last week.
Speaking about the decision, the MRCI said: “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.”