AUCKLAND (Sachin Sharma):An Employment Court of New Zealand on Wednesday dismissed an appeal by a company that was imposed fine for exploitation of seven migrant workers last year.
The Employment Court dismissed the appeal
by Shalini Limited, operators of liquor stores and a dairy in Auckland, against the penalties imposed by the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) in June 2019.
The Labour Inspectorate had taken Shalini Limited to the ERA over employment standards breaches against seven migrant workers employed as retail assistants at two liquor stores and a dairy.
The ERA had ordered Shalini to pay $100,000 in penalties, $96,500 in minimum wage and holiday pay arrears to seven migrant workers.
The evidence before the ERA showed the employees consistently worked long hours and did not receive their minimum wage and holiday pay entitlements, including not being paid correctly for work on public holidays.
In appeal company claimed the ERA suggested that director Venu Mohan Reddy Beerapu was a landlord, when he was only a go-between for the workers and the landlord, the company said.
The company appealed, saying its director had already agreed to pay the workers out, and it couldn't afford the fine.
But the court has dismissed the challenge saying labour exploitation can never be justified.
"Not only does exploitation violate workers' rights and their personal dignity, it also allows some businesses to gain a commercial advantage over employers who are committed to doing the right thing by their people and meeting their legal obligations," said Labour Inspectorate regional manager Loua Ward.
"It also undermines New Zealand's reputation as a good place to work and to trade with."
The Labour Inspectorate investigated Shalini Limited's employment practices after receiving a complaint in 2017.
The investigation related to seven retail assistants working at Lifeline Dairy and Grafton Liquor Spot in Auckland, and a Bottle-O in Parakai.