FAIRWORK: Auckland Bottle Store To Pay $46,000 For Exploiting Worker

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A Super Liquor bottle store in Papatoetoe is the latest bottle store to be penalised and ordered to pay arrears for exploiting a migrant worker by breaching their employment rights.

Basra and Khella Limited, trading as Super Liquor Papatoetoe, has been ordered by the Employment Relations Authority to pay $18,000 in penalties and more than $28,000 in arrears to a former worker. The breaches include more than $25,000 in unpaid wages, and more than $3,000 in unpaid holidays and leave allowances.

Due to inaccurate record keeping by Basra and Khella’s sole director and employer Ravinder Basra, the Authority’s determination relied on the worker’s testimony along with his public transport records, time stamped photographs and purchase receipts from neighbouring businesses to prove his claims.

“This is not the first time the Inspectorate has brought alternative evidence like this to show an employer’s exploitative actions, especially where an absence of accurate wage and time records has occurred,” says Labour Inspectorate Sector Lead, Loua Ward.

“It’s also another example of a bottle store taking non-compliant advantage of a migrant worker, which is simply illegal.”

The Authority heard the worker was commuting six days a week from their home in the North Shore to South Auckland for work, where shifts would regularly go for 12 hours and were often unpaid in full.

“The Labour Inspectorate are working with bottle store franchisors to stamp our exploitation in this industry. Since these breaches occurred in 2017 and 2018, Super Liquor have taken significant steps to improve their compliance with employment minimum standards. We expect other franchises and brands to follow Super Liquor’s lead, and do more to stop exploitation before it happens in their stores.

“Any type of bad branding to a franchise’s name can negatively affect franchisees under the same brand which, like the vast majority of businesses in New Zealand, are above board and rightfully adhere to minimum employment standards with their workers.

“Last year a Consumer Protection survey found that more people are choosing to buy from businesses that they know look after their employees. Franchises need to take this into account, otherwise it will ultimately affect their profit margins,” says Ms Ward.

The Inspectorate continues to encourage any worker who thinks they are being exploited to contact the MBIE* Contact Centre on 0800 20 90 20, where all inquiries will be handled in a safe environment.

(Source: employment.govt.nz | *Ministry of Business Innovation & Employment that supports all small businesses & innovation in New Zealand)

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