A 34-year-old man was recruited by one of his employers in Romania to work as a car wash operator in Ireland He had been promised €300 per month salary in addition to free board and lodging. Once in Ireland he was made to work over 80 hours per week without a contract, no proper breaks and insufficient rest periods. He was paid irregularly and significantly under the national minimum wage. He was forced to sleep in a shed behind the employers’ house. There was no bed, only a mattress on the ground. There was also no heating and no toilet or washing facilities.
After a year of living and working in such conditions, the man was assaulted by one of the employers. He ran away from his place of work and, with the help of a local shopkeeper, the police were informed. The man was subsequently referred to the National Referral Mechanism. He was also referred to an NGO for assistance with submitting a claim to the employment redress mechanism. He was reluctant to do so, and very afraid of the employers’ possible retaliation against his family, both in Romania and in Ireland (some family members had joined the man in the period since he left his employment).
In the end, he did lodge a complaint but the entire process was extremely stressful and traumatic. The employers did not appear at the hearing and an award was subsequently made in his favour.
However, the current whereabouts of the employers is unknown and, even if known, it is unlikely that the victim would pursue them for enforcement of the award due to his concerns for his safety and that of his family. Criminal proceedings for trafficking for labour exploitation were discontinued.