150 Polish People Working For Icelandair Paying 7 Times The Usual Rent - The Reykjavik Grapevine

150 Polish People Working For Icelandair Paying 7 Times The Usual Rent

Published May 30, 2016

Jóhanna Pétursdóttir
Photo by
Art Bicnick

Foreign labourers from Poland working for the IGS subsidiary of Icelandair have to pay approximately 7 times higher rent than Icelandic people in the same region.

Stundin reports that about 150 Polish workers have been working for IGS (Icelandair Ground Services) since last April. As they came to Iceland for this job, the company provided them a place to stay at Ásbrú, on the grounds of the former NATO base in Keflavík.

The contentious aspect of this is that they pay about 69,000 ISK for an 8 square metre apartment with shared bathroom and kitchen. That amount is just taken off their paycheque, as the owners of the buildings are also the ones employing them.

These buildings were built for the US military, and at the time and consisted of 37 rooms per building. Recently, IGS bought the buildings from Kadeco (Airport Development Corporation) and doubled the amount of rooms by dividing each room in half, making it 74 rooms in total per building.

In the same region of the country, Icelandic people living in an apartment of about 55 square metres pay 72,000 ISK – which includes a private bathroom and kitchen. Just looking at the price per square metre, Icelanders pay only 1,300 ISK per square meter while the Polish labourers pay about 8,000 ISK.

“This isn’t anything new,” says Kristján Gunnarsson head of the Workers and Fishing Union. “Foreign workers are coming here and they are working according to Icelandic collective agreements and pay taxes in this country.”

The director of IGS, Gunnar Olsen, said the high rent is to sustain investment.

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