Foreign Shop Workers Often Victims Of Prejudice - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Foreign Shop Workers Often Victims Of Prejudice

Published October 28, 2013

A supermarket cashier of foreign origin says xenophobia and prejudice from Icelandic customers is fairly commonplace.
Vísir spoke to a Bónus cashier about rudeness from customers, in light of a recent story that two customers at the store were so rude to another cashier working there that she burst into tears.
“People don’t want foreigners working,” the cashier Vísir spoke to said. “For example, a customer came to me the other day and asked if I was a foreigner. I said I was from Bosnia, and he said I spoke very good Icelandic. Then he asked if I didn’t want to change my name to an Icelandic one. It ruins your whole day, and makes you feel awful.”
The all-too-common refrain of “foreigners steal our jobs” is also present in Iceland.
“It’s often happened to me that customers just tell me that ‘these damn foreigners are taking jobs from us’. One customer came to me the other day and said he was happy that there was finally an Icelander at the register, that ‘these foreigners ought to piss off back to where they came from’. People don’t get that we are human beings. We’re just at the register, and people forget we’re even there sometimes.”
Ólafía Björk Rafnsdóttir, the chairperson of the hotel workers’ and shopkeepers’ union VR, told reporters that they take the matter very seriously, and are embarking on an educational campaign to inform people of the negative sides of cashier work.
Cashiers in supermarkets often receive a low salary and are, more often than not, either young, foreign, or both.

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