Iceland demonstrators protest migrant exploitation after 3 Poles die in fire

A demonstration against the exploitation of migrant labourers took place on Sunday in the Icelandic capital Reykyavik, after Thursday's death of 3 Poles in a fire in one of the city's tenement buildings for migrant workers.

The around 300-strong demonstration included parliamentarians, the Mayor of Reykyavik, unionists, migrant workers, among them many Poles, and local inhabitants. The protesters set out from the seat of the Icelandic parliament, ending their march at the disaster site, where they laid flowers in commemoration of the three victims.

One of the demo's organisers, Polish-born migrant rights activist Joanna Ginter, told PAP that the building's poor condition had been known to Reykyavik authorities and trade unions for years but nothing had been done about it. She added that the fire could hardly be viewed as an accident, and its victims had in fact suffered "death by negligence".

According to the Mbl.is portal, the Icelandic Efling trade union has been raising concerns about the poor technical condition of the building since last year.

The deaths of the three men were confirmed on Saturday by the Polish ambassador to Iceland. Two other Polish nationals suffered injuries in the blaze, both have been hospitalised.

The fire broke out on Thursday afternoon, according to Icelandic media the house was inhabited by 73 people, all employed by a temporary employment agency. According to the Icelandic daily Frettabladid, most were foreigners, including 28 Poles, 28 Latvians, 12 Lithuanians, three Romanians, one Spaniard and an Icelandic national. Ten persons were in the building when the fire broke out. Icelandic police have launched an investigation into the cause of the blaze.

The Polish diplomatic mission has offered assistance to the injured and to the families of the three victims.