By Gurbir Singh:
Christchurch dairy, Symrose’s Super Fresh, and its owner Jasdev Thind have been penalised over $40,000 for worker exploitation.
The (unnamed) exploited migrant worker would receive more than $26,000 in unpaid employment entitlements, according to the MBIE media release.
Symrose’s and its owner would also have to pay $15,000 in penalties for these breaches, including failing to pay minimum wage, underpaying for sick leave, final pay and holiday pay, and not providing an employment agreement. The worker was also required to work 12-hour shifts, seven days a week.
Under the ERA Determination, Symrose and its director have agreed to pay the arrears over three months, and the penalties from June 2019, through instalments.
NewsViews contacted Symrose’s owner, Jasdev Thind this morning who was initially hesitant to comment as the decision had already been made. But, when pressed further, he claimed the employee was earlier dismissed for allegedly repeat theft offences for which a police complaint was also filed.
“He (the worker) actually went to the Labour Inspectorate after we dismissed him. He was confronted several times for stealing money and he used to apologise every time. On one occasion, he apologised in front of other staff also, and assured not to repeat,” Jasdev said.
According to Jasdev, the worker would have stolen “approx $4000-$5000” during the year plus he was in their employment.
“When asked to give a written apology, he just walked out of work, and had to be eventually dismissed. He then filed a complaint with Labour Inspectorate,” he added. The police complaint was not subsequently pursued in view of his filing the employment dispute.
Jasdev, however, denied that the worker was not given employment agreement as reported. This was, however, related to a family member worker who helped in the dairy and was not provided with the agreement due to ignorance of the rules, he said.
For Jasdev, this is a closed-chapter now, and their dairy continues to “aspire to bring the fresh foods & drinks to the neighbourhood”, which they have been doing for nearly two years now.
Jeanie Borsboom, Labour Inspectorate Southern Regional Manager, says “This is a clear case of migrant exploitation, and sends a strong reminder that penalty action will be taken against non-compliant businesses as well as their owners.”
MBIE encourages anyone who has information about minimum standards not being met to phone the Ministry’s service centre on 0800 20 90 20, where all concerns will be handled in a safe environment.
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