CHINESE OWNER OF NZ LABOUR AGENCY FINED NZ$120,000 FOR EXPLOITING WORKERS
By David Ma
Marlborough based Double Seven Services, which supplies labours to vineyards, and its Chinese owner Qin Zhang, were fined more than $120,000 after failing to pay minimum wage and keep correct records for almost 200 employees.
Neither Zhang nor Double Seven appeared at the New Zealand Employment Relations Authority meeting, which proceeded in their absence.
The Authority said Double Seven exploited vulnerable migrant employees who have little knowledge of their rights or little power to enforce their rights. Authority member Peter van Keulen said in his decision that Double Seven had:
• Failed to keep wage and time records.
• Failed to keep holiday and leave records.
• Failed to provide employment agreements for 104 staff.
• Failed to pay minimum wage to 21 employees, which minimum arrears totaling $7047.
• Failed to calculate or pay leave entitlements to 21 workers.
• Failed to pay 13 workers minimum daily pay for a public holiday.
• Charged a worker a $5065 premium for working.
Double Seven was fined $85,000, and Zhang $42,500 and a further $3000 in legal costs.
The company was ordered to pay $7610 in wages and holiday pay to 21 employees, and $5065 for premium charged to one employee.
The Authority also said it was likely that more employees may not have received their minimum entitlements.
Double Seven’s malpractices were exposed by labour inspectors during a spot visit at its vineyards in 2016.
Some workers complained they were not completing enough pieces of work each hour to be paid the minimum wage and the inspector subsequently requested records from the company.
After identifying what it believed minimum wage and holiday pay breaches, the inspector interviewed Double Seven owner Zhang and he was unable to provide an adequate response to the alleged breaches or what appeared to be false entries in company records.
The case was taken to the Employment Relations Authority last year leading to the hefty fines passed on the Chinese owner recently.
(the writer can be contacted at: DavidMa@thewinechronicle.com)
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