Sushi chain fined for foreign labour violations

Chinese employees working longer than permitted and without paperwork

The popular sushi chain Letz Sushi, which has 11 restaurants in Copenhagen and the surrounding area, has been fined 350,000 kroner for 16 counts of using illegal labour between December 2010 and February 2013, the trade union member magazine Fagbladet 3F reports.

In 14 of the cases, young Chinese employees on student visas exceeded the 15-hour-per-week limit that their visas allowed, often working 12-hour shifts several times a week, according to former employees.

The other two cases involved one Chinese national who had no working permit at all and one who had neither a working permit nor a residence permit.

Company denies systematic abuse
Ulrik Frost, who used to work as a waiter at Letz Sushi, told Metroxpress that exceeding the visa working limits was widespread at the chain. “My Chinese colleagues worked a lot. It was systematic and written into the working schedule,” he said.

“I worked at Letz Sushi for six years and have never seen Chinese colleagues working less than 15 hours a week.”

Louise Ertman Baunsgaard, the head of Letz Sushi, told Fagbladet 3F that the company had not speculated on using illegal labour.

“In individual cases we have made mistakes,” she said.

“The introduction of new systems in March 2013 has reduced the risk of making such mistakes and ensuring that in the future we can document that we are complying with the rules.”