Exclusive: A young Italian au pair has revealed how she was paid just €65 per week by a Co Donegal-based family for working a 70 hour week.
The 23 year old was expected to clean, mind a child, iron and cook as part of her duties.
And when she eventually complained about her heavy workload, she was thrown out of the couple’s house at 11pm and forced to stay in a bed and breakfast.
The Migrants Rights Centre of Ireland has asked the woman to come forward to them and to make an official complaint against the family who are based in Letterkenny.
The young woman, from Rome, came to Ireland last year to improve her English.
She answered an advert on an au pair website and started work at the home of a couple who live in Letterkenny but who are not originally from Ireland.
However just days into her job, the young woman’s workload began to increase steadily.
She revealed “It was not bad at the start but it soon got worse. The advert said ‘light housework’ but I was cleaning and watching the child all the time.
“I got very little free time to myself at all. I was working at least 70 hours a week and I was always paid €65,” she said.
The woman said she was given very little to eat and was given a “treat’ of a piece of fruit or a biscuit each day.
“There was little to eat. I might get pasta or rice but it was small portions.
“When I asked for more I was told I would have to buy it myself,” she said.
The woman was also told off by the couple for eating the child’s food.
She said that she was confronted by the woman for eating some bread and then realised the couple had installed cameras in the house to watch her.
“It was not nice being watched all the time.”
The Italian woman began a course in fashion for one night each week at Letterkenny Institute of Technology.
But when she was late for collection by the man she worked for, he got angry and he shouted at her.
When the young au pair said she could not continue working the long hours under such conditions, he told her to leave.
The 23 year old left and went to a local bed and breakfast before moving to a hostel for a number of days.
She has since moved in with another family and will continue to live here until August.
She also started working in a restaurant and soon became friendly with an Australian girl.
But in a bizarre coincidence the Italian woman discovered her Australian friend was working as an au pair for her former employer.
The Australian woman was also working long hours for little pay and she decided to move out.
She contacted local Gardai who went with her to the house to move out her personal belongings.
The woman said the Gardai said they could not press charges as the couple had not broken any laws.
Aoife Smith, a spokeswoman for the Migrants Rights Centre of Ireland said she was horrified by the conditions the young woman was kept in and the long hours she was expected to work.
But she aded that it was becoming all too common in Ireland.
She urged the young Italian woman to come forward and report the matter to them in confidence.
“We can help her if she is willing to come forward and make a complaint. She can speak to us in confidence.
“Unfortunately the reality is that the Irish Government does not recognise the rights of au pairs here.
“We need to continue to highlight these situations and to show the Government that these people cannot be treated like this,” she said.Tags: