21 Nov 2018

Christchurch dairy owners made employee work 'monstrous hours'

4:44 pm on 21 November 2018

The owners of a Christchurch dairy have been ordered to pay $188,500 for exploiting a migrant worker.

Employment Relations Authority

The Employment Relations Authority has ordered the owners of a Christchurch dairy to pay $85,000 in penalties for exploiting and underpaying a migrant worker. Photo: SUPPLIED

An investigation by the Labour Inspectorate found an employee at Indy Supa, in the suburb of Shirley, was working up to 92 hours a week and was underpaid $103,000 over four years, Labour Inspectorate regional manager Jeanie Borsboom said.

"The affected employee was subjected to monstrous hours during that time," she said.

"The employee was physically and mentally strained, telling us he worked these hours without breaks, couldn't use the washroom and struggled to sleep."

The dairy owner, Kavita Tailor and her husband Mayurkumar Tailor, provided false records to dispute the worker's claims, Ms Borsboom said.

The Labour Inspectorate found the dairy owners did not pay the minimum wage, or annual leave or holiday pay from March 2013 to February 2017.

Today the Employment Relations Authority ordered Mrs and Mr Tailor to pay $85,000 in penalties, as well as paying the worker $103,000.

Ms Borsboom said the employee had sent a message to Mrs Tailor asking for reduced hours and better treatment. Mr Tailor then pressured the employee to retract the message and relied on the retraction to claim the employee's complaints were untrue.

"It was clear from all evidence that the employee feared for his treatment and wellbeing," Ms Borsboom said.

"Migrant workers are an important part of New Zealand society and this treatment is completely unacceptable."

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment is leading an in-depth policy and operational review to better understand migrant worker exploitation in New Zealand and identify solutions.

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