14 Dec 2016

Business ordered to pay $400k for exploiting workers

2:10 pm on 14 December 2016

A labour contracting business has been ordered to pay more than $400,000 for exploiting 75 farm workers.

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75 farm workers were exploited (file photo) Photo: 123rf.com

Binde Enterprises has been ordered to pay $220,000 in penalties and $208,184 in arrears to the 75 employees for failing to pay minimum wage, provide holiday pay, or keep accurate wage or time records.

The staff worked at the Sutherland vegetable farm in Pukekohe, south of Auckland.

One of the contractor's employees, Jaskirat Singh, said he was paid $9 an hour and forced to pay $7 a day in transport costs.

The Employment Relations Authority described it as a compelling case of migrant labour exploitation.

Binde Enterprises owner Jujhar Singh, who has set up a new company contracting to the same farm, told the Authority the underpayments were a mistake by administrative staff.

Sutherland pleaded guilty last year to four immigration charges and was fined $7500.

Labour Inspectorate regional manager Kevin Finnegan said there was "zero tolerance for labour contractors who failed to meet the clear standards set out in New Zealand employment law".

"Taking advantage of vulnerable workers such as migrants, who may not know what their rights are in New Zealand, is taken very seriously by both the Inspectorate and Immigration New Zealand."

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