’80 hours a week … 51 cents an hour’

On May Day, a remarkable story from the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland:

Muhammad Younis grew up in a rural area of Pakistan. He has a wife and nine children. In 2002, Muhammad was recruited for a good job as a chef in a tandoori restaurant in Ireland. He was promised a work permit and decent pay. He took up the offer and moved thousands of miles away to support his wife and children back home, so they could have a better life at last.

Instead of the promised good job, Muhammad endured 7 years of slavery. He worked 80 hours a week in the cramped, unventilated and overheated kitchen of a takeaway in Clondalkin. He was paid just 51 cents an hour for the first 3 years and given just one day off each year – Christmas Day.

His passport was taken by his employer; he was constantly threatened and verbally abused. His every move was controlled; he was a virtual prisoner, shuttled between the kitchen and the small 2-bedroom house he shared with nine other workers. When his work permit ran out, the employer refused to renew it – to further control Muhammad, who was terrified of being deported. Muhammad was unable to reach out for help as he spoke only Urdu. He was completely isolated.

He lived in fear.

Due to the efforts of a friendly co-worker and the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland team, the full extent of the exploitation suffered by Muhammad was revealed. It became clear that he was a victim of trafficking for forced labour – essentially, slavery. With our support, Muhammad finally left the horrific situation he had endured for 7 years.

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