25 May 2024

Holiday park & owner to pay $680k for gross exploitation of migrant workers

A North Island holiday business and its owner have been banned as employers, and will pay a record $680,350 in penalties and unpaid wage arrears to three migrant workers for their gross exploitation.

New Zealand Fusion International Ltd and its owner Shenshen Guan, which operates Golden Springs Holiday Park at Reporoa (Rotorua dist), is required to pay this amount within 28 days.

Fusion has been ordered to pay $300,000 in penalties, with Guan ordered personally liable for a further $150,000.

Shenshen Guan
“Case is not over yet”, says Guan (Photo credit: Facebook)

Workers described their situation as being “like a nightmare”, and a “prison” and each of them will receive $100,000 of this total, on top of between $69,000 and nearly $92,000 they are to receive in unpaid wages and compensation.

New Zealand Fusion and Guan have also been banned from employing staff for 18 months.

Golden Springs
Found guilty of exploiting three migrant workers

Following a Labour Inspectorate investigation into New Zealand Fusion, the Employment Court heard two of the workers mortgaged a house and withdrew their children’s university funds in China to each pay a $45,000 premium “bond” to Guan before coming to New Zealand to work at the holiday park. They arrived on visitors visas and began working unlawfully under false promises of being paid.

The Court heard the workers referred to their time at the holiday park as being “a nightmare”, felt it was like living in a “prison”, and one of them said they “wanted to die”.

The three workers worked on various jobs at the holiday park seven days a week for no wages. Guan had changed their employment contracts and then used the fact that they had no working visas as a reason not to pay them. She also said their “free” food and accommodation while staying onsite should also offset any expectation of payment.

Guan, however, has expressed her disappointment at the decision. On her Facebook page, Guan says:

“I was very disappointed with the decision handed down by the employment court. All through the hearing there were inconsistencies with the testimony of the witnesses.I fell that the labor inspectorate had a preconceived idea about this case before conducting its investigation and that they did a very poor job in establishing the truth!!! I will continue to fight to prove my innocence!!! This case is not over yet!!!”

Labour Inspectorate National Manager, Stu Lumsden says, “This judgement sends a strong message that employers who exploit their workers will be put out of business, and charged penalties far in excess of what they may have gained.”

“The Chief Judge of the Employment Court also reinforced that such conduct requires firm denunciation to drive home that worker exploitation is totally unacceptable in New Zealand.”

According to the OpenCorporates database, New Zealand Fusion International Ltd, Xiaofu Liu is the second-owner with equal shares, but resigned in 2014. 

“None of us want to believe that this sort of thing can happen in New Zealand. But it is happening and we have to deal with it if we want to maintain our reputation as a fair country to work in and to trade with,” Lumsden said.

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