- The scale of the business done by Eldum rétt with the notorious temporary work agency Menn í vinnu was many times more extensive than the CEO has previously claimed.
- A charge has been put before the district public prosecutor against the temporary work agency for human trafficking and other severe crimes. It also has, along with Eldum rétt, been charged before the district court.
- Eldum rétt is still the only one of the client companies to refuse to make restitutions to the Romanian workers who provided services for the company while suffering severe human rights violations at the same time.
Court documents which have been released as a result of the charges filed by Romanian workers against the company Eldum rétt demonstrate that the company’s CEO, Kristófer Júlíus Leifsson, repeatedly lied in the media earlier this year about the company’s business with a notorious temporary work agency. He said that Eldum rétt had only rented four workers from the temporary work agency Eldum rétt for four days, but the truth is that Eldum rétt rented the workers for three to four weeks. Also, there weren’t four workers but six.
The labor violations perpetrated by the temporary work agency Menn í vinnu were exposed on an episode of Kveikur on RÚV in October of 2018 and is now in the process of bankruptcy. Efling has 48 active unresolved wage claims against the bankrupt estate of Menn í vinnu and filed charges against Menn í vinnu to the district public prosecutor for numerous violations, including human trafficking and forced labor.
The men referred to as “product names”
The abovementioned court documents demonstrate beyond any doubt that three workers from Menn í vinnu worked for Eldum rétt for four weeks and another one for three weeks. This is evident in the time reports submitted by Eldum rétt themselves. The invoice from the temporary work agency to Eldum rétt demonstrates the same fact, as it includes the names of the workers, filed under the heading “product names”.
This directly contradicts the statements made by the CEO of Eldum rétt, in Stundin on July 2nd, that this case was about “employees who only worked for us for four days”. In a conversation with Vísir on July 3rd, Kristófer said again that the men had “worked for Eldum rétt for a total of four days during a period of two to four weeks in January and February” and repeatedly spoke of “four days” during interviews with Mbl.is and RÚV.
The only company refusing to make restitutions to the victims
Kristófer used the abovementioned “four days” to make his case that the demands of the men, who suffered numerous labor violations while they worked for Eldum rétt, were excessive and that the violations which were perpetrated against them while they worked for Eldum rétt were trivial. He implied that Eldum rétt had rented the services of the men in good faith and deflected responsibility onto the Directorate of labor.
Eldum rétt is one of three client companies which rented employees from Menn í vinnu in the beginning of 2019 under the terms of chain accountability, despite the exposé done by Kveikur on RÚV of the conduct of the temporary work agency a few months previously. All the companies except Eldum rétt agreed to make restitutions to the employees without a case being filed, after wage claims were sent on their behalf in April of 2019.
Chain accountability tested with charges
Efling got the law firm Réttur to litigate on behalf of the employees who are all Romanian and members of Efling. Charges were filed against Menn í vinnu, against the representatives of Menn í vinnu personally and Eldum rétt in the district court of Reykjavík on June 27th of 2019.
In the case the so-called chain accountability of the client companies of temporary work agencies is tested in court for the first time. Chain accountability means that the company which rents employees from a temporary work agency accepts full responsibility for ensuring that their wages are in accordance with the minimum standards in the Icelandic labor market and no worse than they would have been if they would have been hired directly.
Wages evaporate in abnormal items of deduction
The charges against Eldum rétt, Menn í vinnu and the representatives of Menn í vinnu are made for unpaid wages, illegitimate deductions, forced labor and disrespectful treatment of the four workers. The temporary work agency exploited the ignorance and distress of the men to violate their rights in various ways so that they could be rented for a lower price to client companies such as Eldum rétt.
The men were subjected to abnormal wage deductions, among other things 70 thousand kronas for a bunk bed in a room in industrial housing where up to 8 men slept simultaneously. The number and expanse of other questionable deductions was such that the men were paid little or no real wages for their work. A judge has been selected for the case and the next court session will take place on January 23rd.
A human trafficking operation provides workers for Eldum rétt
“Eldum rétt exploited the distress of Eastern European workers through what I would call a kind of human trafficking operation, run by recidivists in the temporary work agency industry. Their CEO then lied to the media instead of agreeing to a proposal to make restitutions to them,” said Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir, the chairman of Efling, referring to the negotiations between Efling and Eldum in June and July of 2019.
“Eldum rétt is running like hell from the truth in this case,” said Viðar Þorsteinsson, managing director of Efling. “The discourse of Eldum rétt in this case has been evasive from the beginning, unlike that of the other client companies who have all been willing to accept responsibility. Their response is to their credit. Eldum rétt, however, leaves a bad taste.”
The executives of Menn í vinnu previously ran the temporary work agency Verkleigan, which went bankrupt because of a record number of wage claims filed by Efling in May of 2018. The operation of Menn í vinnu was covered extensively in the exposé of Kveikur on RÚV in October of 2018 under the title „Svarta hliðin á íslenskum vinnumarkaði“ (“The dark side of the Icelandic labor market”). The same executives today run the temporary work agency Seigla ehf. under a new ID-number.
Eldum rétt is currently running an ad campaign with famous individuals from the entertainment industry, among others Emmsjé Gauti, Salka Sól and Ilmur Kristjánsdóttir.
News from July of 2019 where Kristófer Júlíus Leifsson made false claims about “four days”: