Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search

 

Employers told to pay minimum wage or risk prosecution

7:48 am today
Jonathan Mitchell, Business Reporter

Advertisers offering jobs to backpackers are being told they must pay the minimum wage or risk prosecution.

Last week, RNZ revealed a job website - Backpackerboard - was advertising roles below the $16.50 per hour minimum wage.

The website has since pulled all job ads below minimum wage and decided to keep a closer eye on the site.

However, labour inspectors are taking a closer look at adverts that don't offer the minimum wage.

Workers' advocate Chloe Ann-King named and shamed the ads on Facebook - describing the job market as the wild west for backpackers and temporary visitors.

Since the story went to air, Ms Ann-King and RNZ have received a steady stream of complaints about working conditions.

The minimum wage increased by 75 cents this year, and equates to $660 for a 40-hour week.

One German backpacker said she quit her farm job in Waikato last week because she was earning below the minimum wage.

"I was working at least 48 hours a week ... at least ... usually more ... and I still got the same $400 every week," she said.

She said her living conditions on the farm were a disgrace.

"No heating ... if I would have stayed during the winter it would have got really cold and I had a portaloo outside ... at least it had a flush ... so it was just a former garage with a little bit of firewood in there and a lot of mice and spiders," she said.

Another German backpacker, Lukas, got $60 for 10 hours work picking kiwifruit flowers in Katikati, in the Bay of Plenty.

"On my last day I just started in the morning to get like maybe four kilos ... five kilograms ... just for like four to five hours just to have a little bit of money because for me it was personally just a waste of time and waste of energy," he said.

He said he walked after a few days work with $200 in his pocket.

'Many don't actually realise what the minimum wage is'

Labour Inspectorate national manager Stu Lumsden said it had been giving employers who advertised a call, and he was shaking his head.

"Many don't actually realise what the minimum wage is ... which is quite surprising... I think one situation they said they'd been overseas and hadn't realised that it had changed," he said.

He said ignorance of the law was no excuse and prosecution was an option.

"If we find that minimum entitlements have been breached ... an individual is liable for a penalty up to $10,000 per breach ... and $20,000 per breach as a company," he said.

The First Union has been outspoken about migrant workers' rights.

Its general secretary Dennis Maga said employers, including in rural and remote areas, needed to be informed of the law and pay the minimum wage.

He said the country needed more labour inspectors doing random checks.

"We believe that there is a widespread exploitation and it will continue unless we step-up our investigation ... inspection ... and ensuring that employers - especially the employers actually employing less than 10 people - will be checked from time-to-time," he said.

Last week's Budget set aside $2.2 million each year for the next four years to hire more labour inspectors, the first step in the government's promise to double the number of inspectors to 110.

Mr Lumsden said the Labour Inspectorate was working with Immigration New Zealand to better inform backpackers and temporary visitors about pay and rights.


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Joseph Cederwall: On Why the News Crisis Gives Us Hope

Scoop has exciting plans ahead for 2018 and beyond. The news media industry is coming to a critical juncture point. The increasing dominance of the digital platform monopoly giants and new developments such as Artificial Intelligence are contributing to disrupt the industry, render old ad-based models unviable and reshape the way we consume news. However, in all this crisis we see opportunity to create a new, more resilient and more decentralised future for independent news media... More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Turns 19: Once More Unto The Breach!

Alastair Thompson writes: While the fairer intellectual disciplines Science, the Arts and Academia continue to be generously funded by Government, philanthropists and billionaires alike, Journalism of the routine kind - which has for three centuries provided the information infrastructure upon which a pluralist democracy is based - is fast disappearing in a fog of fake news. So then, this is Scoop’s call to arms... More>>

ALSO:

Untruth-In-Packaging: Gordon Campbell On The Media’s Problem With The Trump Circus

After shredding America’s relationships with its traditional G-7 allies, US President Donald Trump is about to sit down to pursue a ‘no nukes for lifting economic sanctions’ deal with North Korea – ie the same trade-off that Barack Obama signed with Iran, and which Trump has just torn up More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Why We Should Be Anxious About Artificial Intelligence

Frankly, the prospect of possibly losing half the existing forms of paid employment to AI does make me feel extremely anxious, given the indifference shown by central government to the downstream social damage caused by the reform process last time around... More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: Tom Wolfe The Parajournalist

As New Journalism’s primary advocate, Tom Wolfe headed the field with such experimental forces as Norman Mailer, Truman Capote and Hunter S. Thompson, all dedicated to enriching supposedly factual accounts with excessive flourishes that hurried out the beige in favour of the kaleidoscopic. More>>

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  • PublicAddress
  • Pundit
  • Kiwiblog