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Most Awesome Letter of the Issue!
Hello and hi there,
I had the supreme pleasure of visiting your sunny (not quite in temperature but certainly in disposition) shores the other week, and thoroughly enjoyed the various local kerfuffles and monkeyshines.
Though I must concede the component that took me the most aback and sent me into fits of flabbergastation was the unflagging courtesy of Reykjavik drivers. Coming from Los Angeles, I’m basically a rivulet of red smeared across a roving Prius grille typing this correspondence. Most Angelenos are just a collection of red stuff and teeth festooned all over the flank of a car. Read: Visit LA and run the risk of vehicular maiming. It’s just the very nature of Southern California. London has fog. LA has thoughtless, perpetually-late-for-jazzercise drivers. Drivers eager to plow into you if it’ll shave off a few more minutes off PCH traffic.
So suffice it to say it was most refreshing to waltz around Reykjavik and actually make eye contact with drivers and have them stop and give pedestrians the right of way. One saint of a commuter actually waived his right of way (gnarling traffic momentarily) and waited while I crossed the street. I was weeping from the selfless gesture.
So I commend and applaud the fair people of your city. Take this both as a lauding of the Icelandic people and a scathing indictment of shitty American drivers. I tip my hat to you… spilling brain matter in the process, as it doubles as a makeshift tourniquet I fashioned after a particularly invigorating hit-and-run this morning.
It’s good to be home.
You are absolutely right, Icelandic drivers are completely different from US ones! This is because Icelanders live in perpetual fear of offending our North American overlords. Simply establishing eye-contact as an American is a clear sign of dominance, and the Icelander in question will typically respond with utter submission.
It’s very different with European foreigners. Screw those guys—we go out of our ways to bother them.
But not you. You’re swell.
– The Reykjavík Grapevine
Dear Sir or Madam
I am from Spain and I have been desperately looking for work since being here in Iceland for the last 14 days.
I am not one to complain about much, I know it is hard to find work anywhere, especially a new country. … but as an EU person I should have, in my understanding about travelling and working in iceland, rights over a NON – EU person.
I had gotten a few contacts via talks with people and past travellers online and friends of the best place to get jobs, ie: hotels, cleaning and so forth and someone advised me to go to various places.
On the facebook website I joined a site called ‘Away from home – living in Iceland’. A Russian lady (non-eu) that had travelled and lived and even worked in Iceland told me finding work is easy in Iceland. Just talk to the right people and you will start working on the spot, no questions asked, no contracts and cash in hand. I was ecstatic to contact someone who can give me a job tomorrow! as you can imagine.
I went for a job interview at a Mexican place ‘Taqueria’ at Armuli 21, it was a joint Mexican place just opening and had a so called Icelandic owner who I never met. Some guy interviewed me, and would not tell me his name. He said he will not write out a contract, and I will get 1200isk per hour and it is a ‘flat rate’ all days, and all nights. I will go on a non-paid trial and then we will see how we go with hours. I will get paid at the end of each week, if all ‘works’ out. I told them, I would prefer a contract and work and pay taxes even at a part time basis, as I plan to make my home in Iceland with no problems to follow the future of my stay here.
They also have a taco truck in town, and it is sometimes manned by a young women from Argentina. Who is also a non-eu and unable to legally work here in iceland. I have been told of others who work that truck without proper documentation!
After 3 days I called back about my interview, and was to told to call back later. After a week I was frustrated and went in to see what was taking so long. They had hired a guy from Georgia called David who is also non-eu, without a work visa, and he had been working there for the past week!!! 11am till 10pm everyday, since my interview.
So what is wrong with me? I am EU, able to work, fit, healthy and non smoker, hardworking. A good citizen, and happy to pay taxes and be on a contract with minimum wages.. and even happy to work a free day’s trial.
WHY was I ignored without an answer? Is it because I was male? Because I was from Spain? Because I was an EU? Did they prefer female? Did they prefer someone under 40 years old. Did they think I was too old fashioned and wanted to work with a contract and pay taxes? Was I wrong to ask to get a contract and be part of a union? What was wrong with my application? What did the other worker ‘have’ that I did not have? Was I too old, too experienced? In Spain, I have worked in 4 restaurants for over 10 years – roles from chef to waiter. Did they only want to have workers who were illegally working and under the table and not declare the tax?
The owners Adrean or someone, who wishes to not tell you when you are being interviewed, have no obligation in hiring foreigners who are non-eu on a tourist visa as waiters, chefs, hostess, taco track attendants., paying them under the table with no contract, but why was I denied?! I asked for a contract because it would have helped me get a kennitala application process, so I can start a bank account for my legal payment! As I found out, you need a KENNITALA for everything in Iceland.
I am dismayed and sad that there is a list as fat as bible in the unemployment agency for people, Icelandic and EU residents like me, who are all looking for work and we are all fit and wanting work and don’t want to be getting a stupid tiny unemployment benefit forever, but all these non-eu people come in and work without a worry for 1 day to 1 year, without any disregard to the system. Not only are these people stealing from the people who are desperately looking for work like me, they are stealing from the government and the immediate community of Reykjavik.
And establishments, companies, restaurants and bars that do this, have people working after 5pm or in the weekends, as there is no one from the office of Vinnumalastofnun to check after hours or weekends! These owners who continue to do this without blinking an eye lid, should be punished and for putting other people at risk, for not saying NO to people who are not fit to work without proper paperwork. The owners should be fined for keeping the unemployment agency list of eligible workers so high. These owner should have their business licence revoked and taken away from them as they continue to exploit tourist with no work visa! Punished for not allowing someone like me who wants to have a contract and pay tax and want to contribute and be part of this Icelandic community in a long term, not just to travel and get pocket money, but to live and be part of this society with my family…
Where is the justice for people like me, who want to migrate and make a new life in a new country? These Icelandic employers and illegal employees are taking the piss out of the people who are looking hard to find work, and want to be in Iceland for a new life and it makes, me frustrated, angry and disappointed that Iceland and its people would have these problems in the Reykjavik city area.
Thank you for listening
While the Icelandic food service industry isn’t without fault, as you rightly pointed out, have you considered that people from outside the Schengen area maybe also want to start a life in Reykjavík? Maybe they’re better suited for the jobs you’re applying for.
Maybe you should stop buying into the populist propaganda that foreigners are stealing EU jobs? I mean, that’s some lazy xenophobic rhetoric right there.
Or maybe you shouldn’t be asking a tourist magazine for structural life advice? We have an advice columnist you could reach out to, but you shouldn’t really ask her questions either.
– The Reykjavík Grapevine