16 Oct 2015

Indian restaurant bosses fined for exploitation

8:20 pm on 16 October 2015

A waiter says working at the Masala Indian restaurant chain made his life hell with conditions so bad he was willing to fly back to India.

Managers of a popular Indian restaurant chain have admitted to exploiting workers.

Managers of a popular Indian restaurant chain have admitted to exploiting workers. Photo: 123RF

The waiter told Auckland District Court he relied on the mercy of the chef for meals and worked weeks without pay.

Today his bosses, Joti Jain and Rajwinder Grewal, were sentenced to 11 and four and a half months' home detention, respectively, for misleading Immigration officers and exploiting staff at restaurants across Auckland.

Judge Anne Kiernan told the Auckland District Court that the offenders were exploiting vulnerable migrants.

The offending involved offering fake jobs with inflated pay promises to try and fool immigration officers into issuing visas.

Jain and Grewal were involved in the management of the chain which had outlets in Bucklands Beach, Mission Bay and Takapuna.

Jain was the director of two companies that employed workers at the Masala restaurants. Those two companies are now in liquidation.

Grewal was the manager of the Bucklands Beach branch.

Today the court heard his wife now owns the restaurant which is operating under a new name.

Their lawyer Ron Mansfield said the restaurants across Auckland employed 177 workers who were paid.

But four of the workers worked long hours for very little money.

The summary of facts in the case showed one waitress worked 11 hours a day for six days a week and was paid a little over $200 a week.

The woman also had to clean Jain's home.

She was told by her bosses to submit false timesheets for immigration purposes.

A chef worked for two months and was paid only $40. He should've been paid over $8000.

According to a victim impact statement read by Judge Kiernan in court today, the waiter talked of being over-worked and underpaid.

He got meals but was at the chef's mercy and everytime he raised concerns about his conditions, he was abused by the bosses.

He found the conditions so bad he returned to India.

But the workers will now be getting more money.

Jain, who was the lead offender, has paid almost $58,000 in reparation payments.

She also has to carry out 220 hours of community work.

Grewal will pay over $4700.

He's been before the court before, having been convicted of charges of common assault, willful damage, resisting police and threatening behaviour. He's currently completing 400 community work hours for that offending.

Both he and Jain are not allowed to work in business management.

Jain will be serving her home detention at her home in the upmarket Auckland suburb of Remuera. That home, according to the Auckland Council's website, has a capital value of $2.75 million.