Wage Guarantee Fund steps in, covers Eldum rétt’s unpaid wages

The Wage Guarantee Fund has, by new decisions made on March 2 and 3, agreed to cover unpaid wages to four Efling members who worked at Eldum rétt. The members were supported by Efling and the legal office Réttur in their subpoena against Eldum rétt and the temp agency Menn í vinnu to get these wages paid. They had been withheld with reference to housing costs, a gym card, etc.With its decision, the Wage Guarantee Fund accepts that the wages had been withheld illegitimately, which the members’ cases focused on. Ragnar Aðalsteinsson, their lawyer, said: “The dispute in question had to do with whether Menn í vinnu could unilaterally withdraw various items from the workers’ wages and claim the wages were thus paid by netting out the debt.”As the members’ damages have to this extent been compensated, the basis of the case has changed. Efling will not support further pursuit of the legal case against Eldum rétt and Menn í vinnu. The case’s dismissal in the Reykjavík District Court on February 24 will thus not by appealed as previously announced.Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir, head of Efling, said this turn of events, the Fund accepting and covering the claims, was unexpected. “It is satisfying that the Wage Guarantee Fund stepped in at the eleventh hour and accepted the validity of claims which employers chose to fight in court. Our members’ losses have been compensated and, therefore, the prerequisites of the legal case have changed. It is, however, regrettable that this cost is shifted onto the taxpayer, and I want to call upon Eldum rétt to accept responsibility and repay the Fund these sums,” Sólveig Anna said.The amounts in question are between 120-195 thousand for each of the four members in question. They have been deposited in their bank accounts.Efling and Réttur sponsored a complaint of 20 members to the District Prosecutor in August 2019 and April 2020 over suspected violations by Menn í vinnu. The District Prosecutor’s investigation is ongoing.On the case’s conclusion, Ragnar Aðalsteinsson adds: “The labour movement has long fought unilateral withholding of wages and laws were passed on the matter at the beginning of the last century. With its decision to pay the workers’ wages without deductions, the Wage Guarantee Fund takes an important step towards protecting the wages of workers against unilateral debt equalization by the employer.”