Union Says Icewear "Needs To Show Responsibility" In Slave Labour Case - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Union Says Icewear “Needs To Show Responsibility” In Slave Labour Case

Published February 22, 2016

Photo by
Vanessa Schipani

Large companies must know who they contract to, a union official says, regarding a case of slave labour in south Iceland. More details have arisen about the case, coming from an anonymous source within the company in question.

As reported, a police raid of a home in Vík, south Iceland, last week revealed that two women were locked in a basement and forced to sew clothing for Vonta International, a company owned by their captor. This clothing was in turn sold to Icewear. Ágúst Þór Eiríksson, the managing director of Icewear, said that they had no idea slave labour was being practiced at Vonta, as no one had actually witnessed worker conditions there.

This public disavowal falls short of satisfactory, says the managing director of the Federation of General and Special Workers in Iceland (SGS), and larger companies need to be show some responsibility for their contracted work.

“Regarding Icewear especially, and companies who use contractors, there naturally needs to be a chain of responsibility,” Drífa Snædal told reporters.

How much was known about the internal affairs of Vonta International, and the people who hired them, is still unclear. However, an anonymous former employee of Vonta told Vísir that other employees within the company knew about the two women and the conditions they were working under.

An anonymous source also told Vísir that the man in police custody accused of holding the women captive used a middleman to charge people money for the privilege of coming to Iceland from Sri Lanka to work. The standard fee for this service was just under 900,000 ISK.

The suspect will remain in police custody until at least March 18. Investigations are still ongoing.

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