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Third person involved in Masala case sentenced

28 OCTOBER 2016

Third person involved in Masala case sentenced on immigration charge

A third person involved in the company running the Auckland Indian restaurant chain Masala has today been sentenced on a charge related to the exploitation of migrant workers.

Rupinder Singh Chahil, a New Zealand citizen, was sentenced at the Auckland District Court to six months’ home detention and ordered to pay $2,500 reparation after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing to a representative charge of providing false or misleading information to an immigration officer.

Chahil provided an Indian national with an offer of employment to work as an Assistant Manager at the Mission Bay Masala Restaurant, along with an individual employment agreement and an Employer Supplementary Form for a Work Visa Application. He signed all the documents in the name of Joti Jain, a director and shareholder of Goldlink Enterprises Limited, the employer of workers at Masala, and provided them to the worker who forwarded them to Immigration New Zealand (INZ). A two year work visa was subsequently approved in January 2013.

The offer of employment and agreement stipulated the worker would be paid as Assistant Manager at $15 per hour for a 30-40 hour week. However, she had been and continued to be

employed as a waitress and, on occasion, as a cleaner at Ms Jain's house, working approximately 66 hours a week at a rate of around $3 per hour. By the time she left her job after 10 months she was owed wages and holiday pay of more than $23,000.

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An extensive investigation by INZ found that in all, four Indian nationals were significantly underpaid between 2012 and 2014, forced to under record the hours they worked, return some of their pay back to their employer and not paid any holiday pay.

Ms Jain was sentenced in October last year to 11 months’ home detention, 220 hours’ community work and ordered to pay almost $58,000 reparation. A second defendant, Rajwinder Singh Grewal, was sentenced to four and a half month’s home detention and ordered to pay almost $5,000 reparation.

INZ Assistant General Manager, Peter Devoy, says the sentences handed out in this case send a very strong message that migrant exploitation will not be tolerated.

“The overriding principle is that migrant workers have the same employment rights as all other workers in New Zealand,” Mr Devoy says. “We will not tolerate employers who exploit migrant labour for their own commercial advantage and will not hesitate to prosecute in cases where warranted.

“We encourage anyone being forced to work in New Zealand illegally for less than the minimum wage and/or excessive hours to contact Immigration New Zealand or the Labour Inspectorate. People can also contact CrimeStoppers anonymously.


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