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Auckland businesses fined for labour breaches

30 August 2013

Auckland businesses fined for labour breaches

Three Auckland convenience and liquor stores are to pay a total of $211,574.33 in wage repayments and penalties for breaches of employment law, following a determination by the Employment Relations Authority (ERA).

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Labour Inspectorate filed action with the ERA against the companies which operate Civic Convenience, Symonds Liquor and Sky Liquor after receiving a complaint from 11 employees in July 2012.

The complainants were in New Zealand from India on student visas and reported being underpaid by the companies, which shared the same sole director and owner Mr Ala’a Bader.

Following an extensive investigation the Labour Inspectorate found the men were not receiving their minimum wage or holiday pay entitlements, were not provided with employment agreements, and accurate time and wage records were not kept.

The Inspectorate demanded the employer make correct wage payments but when he failed to respond the claim was brought to the ERA.

The Authority determined $60,000 is to be paid as a penalty for breaching the Minimum Wage Act 1983 and Holidays Act 2003; $55,000 is to be paid for breaches of the Employment Relations Act 2000 by not providing employment agreements; and $96,574.33 is to be repaid as minimum wages and holiday pay.

Labour Inspectorate Northern Regional Manager David Milne says the complainants were vulnerable because of their visa status and Mr Ala’a Bader exploited this.

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“The exploitation of workers is not welcome and breaches New Zealand law. The Labour Inspectorate will not hesitate to enforce and prosecute breaches of minimum employment standards such as minimum wage and holiday entitlements,” says Mr Milne.

“Most fair-minded New Zealanders do not support labour exploitation. By breaking the law, these businesses gain an unfair advantage over their competitors.”

“I would also encourage anyone in this situation or who knows of people in this situation to phone our call centre on 0800 20 90 20 where concerns will be handled in a safe environment.”

[ends]

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