'Slave-like' conditions revealed in car washes

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Picture of a person washing a car: Shutterstock
15:26 CET+01:00
Many workers in Norwegian car washes work in “slave-like” conditions, with illegal activity such as human trafficking and illegal immigration found in 90 percent of establishments, official inspections have shown.

A joint project involving Norway’s police, the Norwegian Tax Administration and the labour inspectorate started in 2011, initially for a limited period. However, it will now continue into next year due to the large number of irregularities it turned up.

“Human trafficking, illegal immigration, workers without residency. It was modern-day slavery,” said Knut-Morden Alvestads, senior inspector at the labour inspectorate.

Figures from the tax authority showed that in 2013 problems were found in 90 percent of car washes inspected. Last year, 47 illegal immigrants working in Oslo car washes were expelled from the country for immigration law breaches. Figures for 2014 have not yet been completed.

“There has been a gradual improvement. Before, we found people living in car wash halls,” said Alvestads.

Erik Nilsen of the Tax Administration said the poor conditions in the sector were due to customers’ unwillingness to pay for car care. He argued that customers had a responsibility:

“This is not just workers working and living in poor conditions - someone is behind this and is making money. If something seems too cheap to be true, it probably is,” he said.


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