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Icelandic Prisoners Paid Below Minimum Wage For Contracted Work

Icelandic Prisoners Paid Below Minimum Wage For Contracted Work

Andie Fontaine
Words by
Photos by
Wikimedia Commons

Published October 9, 2018

The Icelandic Confederation of Labour (ASÍ) believes the Icelandic Prison Service (FMS) is breaking labour laws by contracting out prisoners to do work for less than minimum wage, RÚV reports.

The project manager of the prisoner’s department at ASÍ recently sent a letter to FMS saying that they have received numerous tips that prisoners at the Kvíabryggja facility (shown above) were working at contracted jobs for lower wages than what is outlined in the collective bargaining agreements for their trades. These prisoners are paid a paltry 415ISK per hour, while FMS collects 800ISK per hour for each worker, which they attribute to costs and overhead.

However, the legal department at ASÍ disagrees with FMS’s interpretation of the law. ASÍ points out that there are no exceptions given to how much a worker may be paid, and that the prisons have no authority to contract out workers for less than what the collective bargaining agreement allows.

In response, Páll Winkel, the director of FMS, told RÚV that they were not deliberately underpaying any of their workers. He says the prisoners are entitled to work, that it helps with their rehabilitation, and they are more often than not recruited to do jobs that no one else wants to do. At the same time, the prison work system is essentially operating at a loss.

Regardless of the importance of prisoners being able to work, Páll says that FMS will correct any instances of prisoners being underpaid.


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