Hidden People – Stories from foreign workers in Iceland

Immigrants have contributed immensely to the Icelandic economy as well as to society at large over the years. More than 50.000 or, 15% of the population, are currently considered immigrants in Iceland (Hagstofa Íslands, 2020). Most of us came to Iceland to work and, incidentally, that almost always means working for Icelandic bosses.

Even while making up over 15% of the population, immigrant workers’ voices are all-too-rarely heard, and stories about the exploitation of foreign workers are few and far between.

We analyzed more than 50 stories entrusted to us by foreign workers, inclucing a few described in newspaper articles, and now we share – in an anonymized way – the recurring themes of workers’ experiences:

From the testimonies, we gathered different tools for workers to understand better the situation and empower themselves:

Starting by listening to the workers, we can work together on improving the working conditions for all workers in Iceland.

An injury to one is an injury to all.

This report was funded by the Reykjavík City Grant in the category human rights and the Development Fund for Immigration Affairs of the Ministry of Social Affairs