Restaurant owner feels vindicated as ruling overturned


A RESTAURANT owner who yesterday won a High Court challenge against the Labour Court has said he felt vindicated by the decision.

Amjad Hussein, of the Poppadom restaurants in Dublin, said his business was seriously damaged by a negative campaign against him, and he suffered depression due to abuse received after the case was highlighted.

Yesterday, Mr Justice Gerard Hogan quashed a €92,000 award by the Labour Court to Mr Hussein’s second cousin Mohammad Younis, after finding he was not covered by employment laws because he had no work permit.

Mr Younis had secured the award after alleging he worked 11 hours a day, seven days a week, for “pocket money” in cash for a number of years from 2002 in his cousin’s restaurant, and lived in “hostel-type” accommodation provided by Mr Hussein.

Mr Hussein told The Irish Times yesterday he was not legally represented at the Labour Court when the award was made and the court had been given only one view, and accepted it. “Everything that was said to the Labour Court, it was all ‘story-based’; I was never given a chance,” he said.

He claimed he applied for a work permit for Mr Younis in 2002 when he came to Ireland to work for him as a chef. “When he got here he didn’t know ABC about food and couldn’t do the job. If he wasn’t able to do the job, why should I keep him?”

He said if Mr Younis did attend at the takeaway he was “just doing little bits of things, helping as a family member and a relative”, though, he claimed, Mr Younis had said he was working 100 hours a week. “We only open 50 hours; how could he be working 100 hours a week?” he asked.

Mr Hussein said right up until the Labour Court action he had helped Mr Younis, who was “living independently” and should have gone home when his work visa expired. He claimed the case was “a set-up” by the Migrant Rights Centre and “was just abusing the Irish system” and a way to get a permanent visa in Ireland.

He said demonstrations were held outside a branch of his business in Newlands Cross, that he was verbally abused and threatened and that stones were thrown, forcing him to close the branch.

“I want to clear my name. I am an Irish citizen, I am here 22 years and my three children are Irish-born,” he said. “I have employed 10 people, all legally working for me for years. I have never had a complaint from them . . . I didn’t do anything wrong.”