A former Bay of Plenty kiwifruit labour contractor and its former owner have been ordered to pay more than $250,000 by the Employment Relations Authority (ERA), for exploiting six migrant workers.
Kiwifruit company, Raj Kiwi has been penalised $160,000, with former shareholder and director Rajasekar Chellappa individually penalised an additional $70,000, for 49 employment minimum standards breaches. These included breaches of minimum wage, holiday pay, not keeping records and absent employment agreements.
The company has also been ordered to pay wage arrears to the six workers, totalling more than $26,000.
“This offending was blatant, and the Authority’s high penalties show it recognises the employer was at the worst end of migrant exploitation…but it could have been worse,” says Labour Inspectorate Horticulture sector lead, Kevin Finnegan.
A subsidiary of Chellappa’s, Raj Infotech, was ordered to pay nearly $30,000 by the ERA in 2019 in wage arrears and penalties, after non-compliantly ending a migrant IT consultant’s job, before instead offering them a job picking kiwifruit.
The Labour Inspectorate continues to encourage anyone who believes their employment rights are in breach to come forward and contact MBIE help line.
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